December 24, 2000: Churches bombed on Christmas Eve in Indonesia

On December 24, 2000 terrorists believed to be part of Jemaah Islamiyah bombed several churches in Jakarta and throughout Indonesia, killing 14 people and wounding scores.

VARIOUS CITIES, INDONESIA – Christmas Eve is a very important time for devout Christians and a favourite time to attend services in a church: too bad terrorists have to spoil the occasion.

If you are a Christian, particularly a Western one, you know that Christmas Eve is a tradition. Many families attend local churches in preparation for the following day when the birth of Jesus Christ is commemorated. For a lot of Christians the evening service is preferable to one the following morning. After all, Christmas Day is all about opening presents and stuffing your face, no?

I wonder whether Joseph and Mary got a turkey for the big day too? (Photo: Adoration of the Shepherds by Dutch painter Matthias Stomer, 1632, public domain)

In my remembering churches were packed on Christmas Eve. The mood was festive and the usually dour and sombre music was down right cheery! Everyone seemed to be in great spirits – no NOT the ones which visited Ebenezer Scrooge in the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol – and smiles were everywhere.

Thankfully, we did not have to worry about terrorists attacking our services. Indonesians on Christmas Eve two decaback in 2000 were not as fortunate.

On this day in 2000

Terrorists believed to be part of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) bombed several churches in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, and throughout the country, killing 14 people and wounding scores. The following day some churches were only half full, because of fears of new attacks, and police searched worshippers’ bags.

The government must not hesitate to crack down on those responsible for such a criminal act against humanity.

Archbishop Cardinal Julius Darmaatmaja

We all know that terrorists strike where defences are weakest as they are themselves weak actors. But bombing churches on Christmas Eve? I hope they all got coal in their stockings!

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By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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