Suicide bombers behind the deadly Java hotel blasts orchestrated a sophisticated "in your face" attack, U.S. intelligence officials told NBC News on Friday.
The blasts at the J.W. Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels, located side-by-side in an upscale business district in Jakarta, killed eight people and wounded more than 50 others, investigators said.
While it's too early to pin the blame on Southeast Asian terrorist group Jemmah Islamia, the belief was that the group had an interest in re-asserting itself, officials told NBC News.
There had been tensions in the terror group's leadership and the release of former members from prison could "raise the possibility that splinter factions might now seek to re-energize the movement through violent attacks," an Australian think tank reported.
The bombings also follow the re-election of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yud-hoyono, who suspected a link between the blasts and the vote in his favor. The election handed him another five-year term.
The Islamist militant group remains "at the top or near the top of any list of suspects," said one official, adding that the attack fits the general pattern of previous attacks in 2002, 2003 and 2005. Those attacks involved suicide bombers who carried out multiple, near simultaneous blasts against Western targets.
The recent attack was sophisticated, officials told NBC News. The assailants used smaller bombs than in previous attacks in Jakarta and Bali which used larger explosives.
New York takes caution
Devastation in Jakarta also prompted officials in the U.S. to take precautions. An intelligence official told NBC News there was no evidence of an attack in the U.S., but "you can't say for sure."
In New York City, police forces deployed anti-terror teams to major hotels across the city, including Ritz-Carlton and Marriott locations.
An NYPD intelligence unit officer, stationed in Jakarta, was on the scene of the bombings soon after the explosions. The officer was briefed by Indonesian security officials.
New York officials planned to be updated on developments Friday afternoon, said Paul Browne, a NYPD spokesman. Jakarta is one of 12 cities around the world where the NYPD stations counter terrorism officers.
According to Mike Sheehan, the former NYPD counter terrorism director and NBC News consultant, the bombings signals that terrorism has resurfaced in Jakarta.
"If they attack again soon, that will be problematic — we'll see," added Sheehan, who is the Middle East today. "Jakarta has to crack down on poisonous clerics that still are active in Indonesia."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.