Behind ISIS attack on Indonesia, homegrown jihadi intellectual

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon
First Look at IS Jakarta Gunman

JAKARTA (Reuters) -- Seven years ago, Bahrun Naim was quietly running an Internet cafe in the small Indonesian city of Solo.

READ MORE: ISIS militants attack Jakarta in first strike at Indonesia

On Thursday he was identified by police as the mastermind behind the deadly attack on Jakarta claimed by Islamic State, pulling the strings from Raqqa, the radical group's de facto capital in Syria.

See photos from the scene in Indonesia:

40 PHOTOS
Jakarta Indonesia explosion
See Gallery
Behind ISIS attack on Indonesia, homegrown jihadi intellectual
Indonesian soldiers man an armored vehicle as they guard near the site where an attack occurred in Jakarta, Indonesia Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016. Attackers set off explosions at a Starbucks cafe in a bustling shopping area in Indonesia's capital and waged gunbattles with police Thursday, leaving bodies in the streets as office workers watched in terror from high-rise windows. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
JAKARTA, INDONESIA - JANUARY 14: Indonesian policemen guard the blast site after a series of explosions hit the Indonesia capital on January 14, 2016 in Jakarta, Indonesia. Reports of explosions and gunshots in the centre of the Indonesian capital, including outside the United Nations building and in the front of the Sarinah shopping mall, an area with many luxury hotels, embassies and offices. (Photo by Oscar Siagian/Getty Images)
Indonesian police secure the scene next to victims (C-in orange body bags) outside a traffic police outpost after a series of explosions hit central Jakarta on January 14, 2016. Gunfire and explosions in the Indonesian capital Jakarta killed at least four people on January 14 in what the country's president dubbed 'acts of terror', with fears that militants were still on the run. AFP PHOTO / ROMEO GACAD / AFP / ROMEO GACAD (Photo credit should read ROMEO GACAD/AFP/Getty Images)
People carry an injured police officer near the site where an explosion went off at a police post, rear, in Jakarta, Indonesia Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016. Attackers set off explosions at a Starbucks cafe in a bustling shopping area in Indonesia's capital and waged gunbattles with police Thursday, leaving bodies in the streets as office workers watched in terror from high-rise windows. (AP Photo)
Police officers are deployed near the site where of an explosion in Jakarta, Indonesia Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016. Attackers set off explosions at a Starbucks cafe in a bustling shopping area in Indonesia's capital and waged gunbattles with police Thursday, leaving bodies in the streets as office workers watched in terror from high-rise buildings. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
A police armored vehicle is parked outside a Starbucks Cafe near where an explosion went off in Jakarta, Indonesia Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016. Attackers set off explosions at a Starbucks cafe in a bustling shopping area of downtown Jakarta and waged gun-battles with police Thursday, leaving bodies in the streets as office workers watched in terror from high-rise windows. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)
Map locates bomb explosions at Starbucks in Jakarta; 2c x 3 1/2 inches; 96.3 mm x 88 mm;
Police officers push back curious onlookers from the spot near a police post where an explosion went off in Jakarta, Indonesia Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016. Attackers set off explosions at a Starbucks cafe in a bustling shopping area in Indonesia's capital and waged gunbattles with police Thursday, leaving bodies in the streets as office workers watched in terror from high-rise buildings. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)
EDS NOTE: GRAPHIC CONTENT - Bodies are seen as a police officer walks near a police post damaged by an explosion in Jakarta, Indonesia, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016. Suicide bombers exploded themselves in downtown Jakarta on Thursday while gunmen attacked a police post nearby, a witness told The Associated Press. Local television reported more explosions in other parts of the city. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
Body bags cover victims outside a traffic police outpost after a series of explosions hit central Jakarta on January 14, 2016. Gunfire and explosions in the Indonesian capital Jakarta killed at least four people on January 14 in what the country's president dubbed 'acts of terror', with fears that militants were still on the run. AFP PHOTO / ROMEO GACAD / AFP / ROMEO GACAD (Photo credit should read ROMEO GACAD/AFP/Getty Images)
Police officers rush to take their position at the site of an attack in Jakarta, Indonesia Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016. Attackers set off explosions at a Starbucks cafe in a bustling shopping area in Indonesia's capital and waged gunbattles with police Thursday, leaving bodies in the streets as office workers watched in terror from high-rise buildings. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)
Police officers stand guard outside a damaged Starbucks cafe after an attack in Jakarta, Indonesia Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016. Attackers set off explosions at a Starbucks cafe in a bustling shopping area in Indonesia's capital and waged gunbattles with police Thursday, leaving bodies in the streets as office workers watched in terror from high-rise windows. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)
A police post in the center of Thamrin street across from Sarinah shopping mall is damaged after a bombing in Jakarta, Indonesia, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016. Suicide bombers exploded themselves in downtown Jakarta on Thursday while gunmen attacked a police post nearby, a witness told The Associated Press. Local television reported more explosions in other parts of the city. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)
JAKARTA, INDONESIA - JANUARY 14: Indonesian policemen guard the blast site after a series of explosions hit the Indonesia capital on January 14, 2016 in Jakarta, Indonesia. Reports of explosions and gunshots in the centre of the Indonesian capital, including outside the United Nations building and in the front of the Sarinah shopping mall, an area with many luxury hotels, embassies and offices. (Photo by Oscar Siagian/Getty Images)
JAKARTA, INDONESIA - JANUARY 14: An Indonesian policeman stands guard in front of a blast site at the Indonesia capital Jakarta on January 14, 2016 in Jakarta, Indonesia. Reports of explosions and gunshots in the centre of the Indonesian capital, including outside the United Nations building and in the front of the Sarinah shopping mall, an area with many luxury hotels, embassies and offices. (Photo by Oscar Siagian/Getty Images)
JAKARTA, INDONESIA - JANUARY 14: Indonesian policemen and ambulance arrive in front of Sarinah shopping mall after a series of blasts hit the Indonesia capital Jakarta on January 14, 2016 in Jakarta, Indonesia. Reports of explosions and gunshots in the centre of the Indonesian capital, including outside the United Nations building and in the front of the Sarinah shopping mall, an area with many luxury hotels, embassies and offices. (Photo by Oscar Siagian/Getty Images)
JAKARTA, INDONESIA - JANUARY 14: Indonesian policemen stands guard near the blast site after a series of explosions hit the Indonesia capital on January 14, 2016 in Jakarta, Indonesia. Reports of explosions and gunshots in the centre of the Indonesian capital, including outside the United Nations building and in the front of the Sarinah shopping mall, an area with many luxury hotels, embassies and offices. (Photo by Oscar Siagian/Getty Images)
JAKARTA, INDONESIA - JANUARY 14: Indonesian police search for suspects after a series blasts hit the Indonesian capital on January 14, 2016 in Jakarta, Indonesia. Reports of explosions and gunshots in the centre of the Indonesian capital, including outside the United Nations building and in the front of the Sarinah shopping mall, an area with many luxury hotels, embassies and offices. (Photo by Oscar Siagian/Getty Images)
JAKARTA, INDONESIA - JANUARY 14: Indonesian police search for suspects after a series blasts hit the Indonesian capital on January 14, 2016 in Jakarta, Indonesia. Reports of explosions and gunshots in the centre of the Indonesian capital, including outside the United Nations building and in the front of the Sarinah shopping mall, an area with many luxury hotels, embassies and offices. (Photo by Oscar Siagian/Getty Images)
An Indonesian policeman fires his handgun towards suspects outside a cafe after a series of blasts hit the Indonesia capital Jakarta on January 14, 2016. At least four people have been killed, one police officer and three civilians, after blasts on January 14 hit the Indonesian capital Jakarta, police said. AFP PHOTO / Bay ISMOYO / AFP / BAY ISMOYO (Photo credit should read BAY ISMOYO/AFP/Getty Images)
Indonesian police take position behind a vehicle as they pursue suspects after a series of blasts hit the Indonesia capital Jakarta on January 14, 2016. A series of bombs killed at least three people in the Indonesian capital Jakarta on January 14, with shots fired outside a cafe as police moved in, an AFP journalist at the scene said. AFP PHOTO / Bay ISMOYO / AFP / BAY ISMOYO (Photo credit should read BAY ISMOYO/AFP/Getty Images)
Smoke rises after series of blasts outside a shopping centre in the Indonesia capital Jakarta on January 14, 2016. A series of bombs killed at least three people in the Indonesian capital Jakarta on January 14, with shots fired outside a cafe as police moved in, an AFP journalist at the scene said. AFP PHOTO / Bay ISMOYO / AFP / BAY ISMOYO (Photo credit should read BAY ISMOYO/AFP/Getty Images)
Plainclothes police aim their handguns towards suspects outside a cafe after a series of blasts hit the Indonesia capital Jakarta on January 14, 2016. A series of bombs killed at least three people in the Indonesian capital Jakarta on January 14, with shots fired outside a cafe as police moved in, an AFP journalist at the scene said. AFP PHOTO / Bay ISMOYO / AFP / BAY ISMOYO (Photo credit should read BAY ISMOYO/AFP/Getty Images)
Indonesian police take position and aim their weapons as they pursue suspects outside a cafe after a series of blasts hit the Indonesia capital Jakarta on January 14, 2016. A series of bombs killed at least three people in the Indonesian capital Jakarta on January 14, with shots fired outside a cafe as police moved in, an AFP journalist at the scene said. AFP PHOTO / Bay ISMOYO / AFP / BAY ISMOYO (Photo credit should read BAY ISMOYO/AFP/Getty Images)
A plainclothes policeman prepares his handgun as authorities chase the suspects after a series of blasts hit the Indonesia capital Jakarta on January 14, 2016. A series of bombs killed at least three people in the Indonesian capital Jakarta on January 14, with shots fired outside a cafe as police moved in, an AFP journalist at the scene said. AFP PHOTO / Bay ISMOYO / AFP / BAY ISMOYO (Photo credit should read BAY ISMOYO/AFP/Getty Images)
An Indonesian policeman fires his handgun towards suspects outside a cafe after a series of blasts hit the Indonesia capital Jakarta on January 14, 2016. A series of bombs killed at least three people in the Indonesian capital Jakarta on January 14, with shots fired outside a cafe as police moved in, an AFP journalist at the scene said. AFP PHOTO / Bay ISMOYO / AFP / BAY ISMOYO (Photo credit should read BAY ISMOYO/AFP/Getty Images)
Police chase suspects thought to be hiding at a cafe after a series of blasts hit the Indonesia capital Jakarta on January 14, 2016. A series of bombs killed at least three people in the Indonesian capital Jakarta on January 14, with shots fired outside a cafe as police moved in, an AFP journalist at the scene said. AFP PHOTO / Bay ISMOYO / AFP / BAY ISMOYO (Photo credit should read BAY ISMOYO/AFP/Getty Images)
Police (L) hide behind vehicles during an exchange of gunfire with suspects hiding near a Starbucks cafe when another blast happens in Jakarta on January 14, 2016. A series of bombs killed at least three people in the Indonesian capital Jakarta on January 14, with shots fired outside a cafe as police moved in, an AFP journalist at the scene said. AFP PHOTO / Bay ISMOYO / AFP / BAY ISMOYO (Photo credit should read BAY ISMOYO/AFP/Getty Images)
#Indonesia television showing images of #Jakarta bombings at police office. https://t.co/6k8DZYSpGn
Saw multiple explosions near Starbucks in central Jakarta. Wtf? https://t.co/CK1IVjBnXe
Here is a photo just sent in re that apparent bombing at sarinah mall in #jakarta. https://t.co/DNQdPVO1EL
More photos post sarinah bomb a few min ago. Apparently shooting going on. #Jakarta. https://t.co/Uhvkky2m70
#BREAKING | At least 1 dead in massive explosion near UN office in central Jakarta Picture courtesy: @ReesEdward https://t.co/W3UteDCa0f
Stay Safe Everyone at Jakarta !!! https://t.co/YeNAD7MBEN
'I see three dead people on the road' - several explosions, gunfire reported in Jakarta: https://t.co/kBEYoz1nRW https://t.co/2mBaqVCumz
Breaking: @jdouglasSEA view from his #UN office in #Jakarta directly opposite where the attacks have been happening https://t.co/ueHVBXpBSG
Still tense in centre Jakarta. Police edgy. Can see three bodies. Terrible scene. Multiple blasts reported https://t.co/3sz7sqeuGs
Several blasts and exchanges of heavy gunfire rock the centre of Jakarta: https://t.co/wqkMOk6pOC #9News https://t.co/mQb8Ockkq0
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

In between, Naim was arrested in 2011 for illegal arms possession and jailed for three years, and police say that since then he has emerged as a key player in militant networks that have sprouted around Solo and across Central Java.

Watch more coverage:

ISIS Attacks Jakarta, Explosions Captured Live on Video

A year ago, he left for Syria to join the frontlines of Islamic State, and police believe Naim was closely involved in coordinating Thursday's assault.

Five of the attackers and two civilians were killed in Islamic State's first strike against Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation where the group wants to establish an Asian beachhead for its "caliphate."

There had been hints of what was to come for weeks.

After the coordinated attacks across Paris in November, the militant intellectual published a blog in which he explained to his followers how it was easy to move jihad from "guerrilla warfare" in Indonesia's equatorial jungles to a city.

Reuters contacted Naim on Nov. 24 on Telegram social messaging, using details provided by one of his acquaintances. In that exchange, he said there were more than enough Islamic State supporters to "carry out an action" in Indonesia.

"Just waiting for the right trigger," the man identifying himself as Naim said.

Naim could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

Intelligence experts say that, not long after that Telegram exchange, intelligence officials began to pick up talk in social messaging chatrooms that an attack on Indonesia was imminent.

"Chatter among Islamists began to become more organized last month and there were discussions for the first time of a multiple attack," said a Jakarta-based security adviser, who monitors radical group discussions on mobile messaging services for the government.

Counter-terrorism officials believe there are at least 1,000 sympathizers of the radical jihadist group across Indonesia.

EMERGING MILITANT NETWORKS

The eavesdropping helped lead police to the arrest of more than a dozen men across the populous island of Java who were suspected of planning attacks over the Christmas and New Year holidays.

Bomb-making materials, a suicide vest and "jihad manuals" were found during the raids. Police said some of those rounded up had received funding and support from Naim, who believes Indonesia should be governed strictly as an Islamic country.

Naim had been planning the attack on Indonesia's capital for a while, Jakarta Police Chief Tito Karnavian said on Thursday, adding that he clearly had ambitions to become "the leader" of Islamic State in Southeast Asia.

Sidney Jones, a Jakarta-based expert on Islamist militants at the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, said in a November report that there was only a slim chance in Indonesia of an attack on the scale seen in Paris, but she warned then that the threat was growing under the government's nose.

She noted that in one blog post, entitled "Lessons from the Paris Attacks," Naim urged his Indonesian audience to study the planning, targeting, timing, coordination, security and courage of the Paris jihadis.

That said, experts have pointed out that the relatively low death toll in the Jakarta assault suggested the involvement of local, poorly armed militants with little or no training.

In the Telegram exchange with Reuters, Naim also spoke of more mundane affairs, explaining that he enjoyed life in Syria and had no plans to return to Indonesia.

"I move around, depending on where our emir orders us to go. It's good here in Syria. There's electricity, accommodation, water and it's free. The services provided by them are good, cheaper than in Indonesia," he said.

More from AOL.com:
Study suggests drinking soda piles on fat around internal organs
Ted Cruz says he may amend US financial disclosures to show loans to 2012 senate campaign
McDonald's revolutionary restaurant in Hong Kong might reveal the future of the brand

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners