Bahrun Naim: The mastermind behind Jakarta attacks?

Story highlights

  • Indonesian man who has spent time in jail believed to be behind Jakarta attacks
  • Suspect Bahrun Naim also ran a militant blog

(CNN)Bahrun Naim, the man authorities believe is the architect of Thursday's deadly attack in Jakarta, is a member of ISIS and is living in the militant jihadist group's de facto capital of Raqqa, Indonesian authorities believe.

The man, from the Javanese city of Solo, also known as Surakarta, is looking to assert himself as a major regional player in ISIS' planned "distant caliphate."
The former blogger has spent time in prison, and has a history with radical groups, they say, adding that they believe he plotted Thursday's attack to assert himself among various figures competing to lead ISIS in Southeast Asia.
Is ISIS gaining a foothold in Indonesia?
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Others include Bahrum Syah, believed to be commander of Katibah Nusantara, a joint Indonesian-Malaysian fighting unit formed in late 2014. Another is Abu Jandal, a preacher from Malang to whom Naim had links, before his ambition outgrew the influence of the iman.
Jakarta police chief Tito Karnavian told CNN that Naim went to Syria after he got out of prison.
He was apprehended by Indonesian authorities in 2010 for illegal possession of ammunition and was brought to justice, the police chief said. Naim was sentenced to at least 2½ years behind bars.

Extremist positions gathering pace

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Manju Gaur climbs the staircase with a fierce but steady determination. The building is decrepit, some walls crumbling, others caked in a thin, greasy film.   Flanking Gaur, just ahead of her, is a row of police officers, some from her native Assam, others from this working class neighborhood in West Delhi.A few steps behind her are a handful of social workers and coordinators from Bachpan Bachao Andolan, a local charity that has rescued thousands of children from human trafficking.But Gaur -- a victim of trafficking herself -- is here on a much more personal mission: Finding her little sister.Gaur was born in a rural village in Assam. Her parents worked on a tea plantation, one of hundreds scattered throughout the northern state, which produces more black tea than anywhere in the world. (WE ARE STILL LOOKING INTO THIS CLAIM)Officially they earned less than $2 U.S. a day. In real life, it was often less after the owners deducted mandatory expenses like housing, education, and medical care from their salaries. With no education and no hope of a better life, Gaur desperately wanted a way to help her parents make ends meet.She still remembers the day the agent came knocking on her door.  She was just 14."One morning, he came to our house and said that he would put us to good work," she says.  The agent said he could arrange for Gaur (and others) to work for wealthy homeowners in Delhi where domestic servants are often employed to do everything from cooking to cleaning to looking after young children.Gaur says the agent lived in her own village and was well-known.  She thought she could trust him.  "I was easily convinced" she says.  "We're poor and live in a broken house -- without a rooftop. I thought I could earn and help my parents, and my sisters, so that we could study."She was wrong.In Delhi, she was kept in a house with other girls from Assam -- just like her -- all waiting to be sold as domestic labor.  That's when she says the violence started. "If the girls didn't listen," she explains, "they often hit them."Gaur says she was never sexually abused, but witnessed a number of incidents where other girls were.  The agents, she says, would often mix alcohol with a fizzy drink and make the girls drink it.  In one case, Gaur says the man who appeared to be the ringleader gave one of the girls a drink that rendered her nearly unconscious, and then took her to an empty room upstairs.   "She said that they got her too drunk" Gaur recalls, "and she couldn't do anything to stop him. I saw with my own eyes the number of girls they abused."(JC- WE SHOULD PROBABLY ADD THAT SHE NEVER TOLD AUTHORITIES FOR FEAR OF REPRISAL, OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT, TO EXPLAIN WHY AUTHORITIES DIDN'T DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT)Police in Assam say young girls from tea plantations are easy targets. They live in poverty, have very little education, and their parents are often saddled with debt.Most are descendants of the original bonded laborers brought in from other parts of the country by British colonial rulers. They live in the same circumstances as they did more than a century ago, with the same impoverished lifestyles.Police say young girls see placement agencies as a way to escape the cycle, lured by promises of good jobs and a steady income. Instead, they often find themselves sold as domestic labor or forced to work in the sex industry.  Police say hundreds of girls in tea districts fall pretty to traffickers every year.  In the worst cases, fathers sell their own daughters as a way to escape poverty.After she realized what was happening, Gaur says she pleaded with the men."I tried telling them that I wanted to go home," she says. "But [the agent] said that they had already spent a lot of money on me, and that my family had to repay all of it before they could let me go.  And so, I had to stay."She wound up being sent to a middle-class home, working as a domestic servant. There was no abuse, she says, but there was also no money. Her employers told her they sent her monthly salary directly to the placement agency. She never saw a single rupee. She says she worked around the clock, but never entertained the thought of leaving."I was new there and didn't know anyone," she says. "Who could I have possibly escaped with?After a year, Gaur says she mustered up the courage to explain her situation to a friendly neighbor, who gave her enough money for a train ticket back home. She didn't tell the homeowners she was going.  She just took her things and left.Gaur says life in her village in Assam is still better than working for the trafficker, but now she has another problem. Her sister, Aarti, has been lured away by the same traffickers. The last time Gaur spoke with her on the phone, she was in tears saying she'd been mistreated.Gaur is convinced Aarti has been abused. For help, Manju Gaur has turned to Bachao Bachpan Andolan, or the BBA. Its founder, Kailash Satyarthi, is a Nobel Peace Prize winner for his work in combating child labor and trafficking.The BBA has arranged to bring Gaur to Delhi, where they've traced the trafficker's location to the non-descript apartment complex.As police barge through the doors, calling out the trafficker by name, they have no idea what they'll find.  Gaur is led by police, room by room, asking if she recognizes anyone. She doesn't, and when they turn the corner to the next room, they find something that unfortunately is commonplace in raids like this.Three young girls, all huddled in a corner.  They look frightened -- and shell-shocked.  They tell police they're all from Assam, and that they were lured to Delhi by a man who said he worked for a placement agency. They say they were told he received 15,000 rupees -- just over $200 -- for each girl he brought in.  But they haven't seen any money."He told us he gave my mummy the money," the youngest girl says.Upstairs, police finally nab the trafficker, a man with a slight pot belly. When they bring him down, he appears unremorseful, insisting the girls came to Delhi of their own free will.  Later, as the girls are questioned in private by one of BBA's female social workers, they confirm the rescue team's worst fears.  One of the girls admits she was raped, repeatedly.Outside the police station, CNN Freedom Project confronts the trafficker with accusations that he was sexually abusing the girls"What did they complain about?" he says, defiantly.  "You have to find that out first."When we push for answers, saying one of the girls has made specific accusations against him, he refuses to answer, demanding to know which of the girls has made the complaint.  Later, inside the police station, where he awaits formal charges, he cuts a deal with the police.  He agrees to tell them where Manju's sister, Aarti, is working.Two hours later, a smiling Aarti appears, accompanied by police. . (JC- I THINK WE NEED TO ADD WHAT THE TV PIECE SAYS, THAT POLICE FOUND HER AND BROUGHT HER BACK)  Gaur runs into her arms, with the kind of hug that only a loving sister can give. She knows there's a long road ahead.  Aarti will be questioned by police and social workers, sent off to a nearby clinic for a mandatory health inspection, then spend weeks rehabilitating at one of the BBA's shelters for rescued children.But still, for Manju, it's still a victory. Aarti is free. They're together again. For now, that's all that matters.ENDS

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The police chief did not provide additional details on Naim's life, but Sidney Jones, director of the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, filled on some of the blanks in an email to CNN.
Based on her account, Naim was born September 6, 1983 in Pekalongan, Indonesia. He grew up in Solo and studied computer technology in college.
Naim was reportedly close to the son of Abu Bakar Bashir, the radical Indonesian cleric who founded Jemaah Islamiyah, the group that orchestrated the 2002 and 2005 Bali bombings.
Maim is said to have joined Hizbut Tahrir, a conservative Islamic group, but then left the group.
The ammunition that Naim was arrested for in 2010 was used by men involved in an attack on police in Central Java, according to Jones. Two years after his release he, and his secret wife, pharmacy student Siti Lestari, fled to Syria. He left behind an existing wife, and two children.
From Syria, Naim financed an ultimately unsuccessful, inept attempt at a series of bomb attacks in Solo. He later sent money to would-be jihadists looking to travel to Syria.
Police arrested several men, included a Uighur whom the Indonesians had persuaded to be a suicide bomber, but several remained at large.

Militant blog

Jones says that, while living in Solo, he developed a reputation as a radical teacher and maintained an active blog.
Following Thursday's attack, an Indonesian anti-terror source told CNN it was "highly possible" a particular blog is run by Naim himself or by people posting on his behalf.
The blog, written entirely in Bahasa Indonesia, contains ISIS teachings, posts on how to conduct terror attacks, lessons learned from the Paris attacks, how to avoid intelligence surveillance, how to make homemade pistols and how to conduct guerrilla warfare in cities.
Authorities in Indonesia have been monitoring the blog for two years, the anti-terror source said.