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Monday, Dec 05, 2022
Outlook.com
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Opinion

What Was The Target?

Two persons were killed in the parking area of the Marriott Hotel of Islamabad on January 26, 2007. Was the real target to disrupt the Indian Republic Day celebrations, or is it something against this hotel chain as this was the third time it has bee

What Was The Target?
What Was The Target?
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

Ten persons were killed and 150 others  injured on August 8, 2003, following an explosion at the Marriott Hotel of Jakarta. After the blast, Matori Abdul Djalil, the then Indonesian defence minister, told the media that the people behind the blast  had trained with Al Qaeda  in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Reacting to his allegation, a spokesman of the Pakistan Foreign Ministry in Islamabad, told pressmen as follows: 

"Pakistan has taken a series of strong and effective measures against Al Qaeda.If the Indonesian Government had a lead on the training of the terrorists, they should share it with us so that we could further intensify our action. Indonesia has not shared its suspicions about terrorism training in Pakistan and its alleged link to Tuesday's bombing. Pakistan strongly condemns the terrorist attack at Jakarta's Marriott Hotel. This was a gruesome attack killing innocent civilians."

Seven persons, including two Italians and an American diplomat, were injured in an  explosion  at the Marriott Hotel of Islamabad on the night of October 28, 2004, when 11 members of the US Embassy were having their dinner in a restaurant. The explosion took place in the lobby. The Pakistani authorities strongly denied that this was an act of terrorism and contended that the explosion was caused by an electrical short-circuit. This was denied by many hotel guests who insisted that the explosion was caused by a bomb. While no further investigation was made by the Pakistani authorities, American security officials made their own enquiries and ruled out a short circuit. They suspected that the explosion was caused by an improvised explosive device (IED) planted in the lobby of the hotel. The US Embassy issued an advisory making the hotel out of bounds for its employees posted in Islamabad.

Two persons were killed in the parking area of the same hotel at 2-30 PM on January 26, 2007, when a suspected suicide bomber, who was stopped for questioning by a security guard, blew himself up. The security guard was also killed. The Pakistani authorities have admitted that this was an act of suicide terrorism. The incident took place four hours before a reception hosted by the Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad to celebrate the Indian Republic Day. The High Commissioner went ahead with his reception despite the blast.

What was the intended target of the alleged suicide bomber— the Indian reception or the hotel? The News, a Pakistani daily, has quoted a private security agency official as saying as follows: "Probably, the suicide bomber was planning to hit the  (Indian) reception scheduled to be held in ‘Lower Marquee’ at 6.30pm." No clear evidence is as yet available, but one has to also take note of the fact that a hotel of this chain has come under attack for the third time by pro-Al Qaeda jihadis of Pakistan. The Jakarta and Islamabad Marriott Hotels are owned by locals, but they form part of an international franchise chain with headquarters in the US.  John Willard "Bill" Marriott, Jr.  is the Chairman and CEO of Marriott International. He is believed to be close to President George Bush and his wife. He serves as the Chairman of the President's Export Council, a group that advises the President on matters relating to export trade, and serves as the Chairman of the Leadership Council of the Laura Bush Foundation for America's Libraries.

It is said  that since the Jakarta blast hotels of this chain take great care not to rub Muslims or jihadis on the wrong side and do not allow jihadi terrorism-related conferences and seminars to be held in their premises.

B. Raman is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai.

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