Bali Bomb Trial Information (Continued)
Hambali wanted Bali bomber as witness
Mark Coultan Herald Correspondent in New York |
THE alleged operations chief of Jemaah Islamiyah said he wanted to call the convicted Bali bomber Imam Samudra as a witness in his defence during his hearing at Guantanamo Bay.
Riduan Isamuddin, who is commonly known as Hambali, withdrew the request after an apparent deal to obtain Samudra's evidence by a written statement. Samudra, who was sentenced to death for his part in the Bali bombings, is in jail in Indonesia.
The presiding officer at the Guantanamo Bay Combat Status Review Tribunal told Hambali there were "particular circumstances that prevented that witness from attending".
He said that despite "considerable effort" by the US Government, they had not contacted Samudra. He said the US Government had been in touch with the Indonesian Government, but they did not know if Samudra had received Hambali's questions. Indonesia has previously requested access to Hambali, but apparently been rebuffed by the US Government.
The hearing was the first acknowledged appearance of Hambali since he was arrested in Thailand in 2003. However, there were no independent witnesses to his appearance, and the transcript was censored by US military authorities.
In the transcript, Hambali denied allegations that he had any association with al-Qaeda while a member of Jemaah Islamiyah. He said he left JI in 2000. He also denied that he had been involved in a plot to bomb the Australian, British and American embassies in Singapore in 2000, or that he funded or was involved in the bombing of Christian churches in Indonesia in December 2000.
Despite widespread reports that Hambali was one of the masterminds of the Bali bombings in 2002, he was not asked about his involvement.
However, the transcript details what is described as an FBI source reporting that Hambali had said in January 2002 that his plan was to stage small-scale attacks against bars, cafes and nightclubs frequented by foreigners in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Indonesia.
This FBI source may be the origin of a warning put out by the US Government and a far more general travel alert issued by the Australian Government before the Bali bombings about attacks against bars and clubs in Indonesia.
The allegations outlined against Hambali included that he was the main contact point with al-Qaeda, that he claimed to have one tonne of explosives in Indonesia, and that Hambali was the leader of a Malaysian mujahideen group which wanted to overthrow the Malaysian Government.
The transcript reveals some of the intelligence to be used against Hambali.
The FBI source, who seems to have been a member of JI, is alleged to have received a map and video of the Yishan rapid-transit station in Singapore from Hambali, who asked him to
plan how to attack it. Hambali liked the plan developed by this source, and told him to take it to high level al-Qaeda figures in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Hambali is one of 14 so-called high-value prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay.
In the past month, there have been a series of hearings to determine whether, in the eyes of the United States, they are "enemy combatants" - a designation designed to deny them status as prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions but allow their indefinite detention. They could eventually face military commissions like the one for the Australian David Hicks.
Hambali's appearance at a hearing to decide if he would be classified as an enemy combatant was held in Guantanamo Bay on April 4. He was not represented by a lawyer at the hearing, but instead by a US military officer.
Hambali has written a long statement in reply to the allegations against him, but that statement was not released.
Bali bombing suspect denies Al Qaida link
Washington: An Indonesian suspected of being a leader in the terror group blamed for the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings is denying any connection with the group's supposed affiliate, the Al Qaida.
Riduan Isamuddin, whose nom de guerre is Hambali, also told a military hearing at the Guantanamo Bay US naval base that he had no knowledge of other terrorist plots he is accused of orchestrating as the alleged operations chief of the Jemaah Islamiyah, the terror group considered responsible for the October 12, 2002 bombings on the Indonesian island of Bali that killed 202.
Isamuddin appeared before a Combatant Status Review Tribunal, an administrative hearing, at Guantanamo Bay on April 4, as one of 14 "high value" detainees transferred there last September after being held at secret CIA prisons abroad.
The public and reporters are not permitted access to the hearings; a US government transcript of the unclassified portion of Isamuddin's hearing was released by the Defence Department on Thursday.
The Pentagon also released the transcript of a closed hearing for Ali Al Azia Ali, also known as Ammar Al Baluchi, who is accused by US authorities of helping arrange financing for at least one of the September 11 hijackers.
Ali said he was an ordinary businessman with family ties to alleged terrorist Khalid Shaikh Mohammad but was not part of Al Qaida or any such outfit.
In statements at his administrative hearing, Ali also asserted that during his nearly four years in US custody he gave US officials "vital information" to help foil terror plots. He is another of the 14 "high value" terror suspects at Guantanamo.
30th April 2007 - Hambali Update
14h June 2007 - Abu Dujana captured