US Presses New, Expanded Charges against Indonesian Terror Suspect Hambali

Roni Toldanes
190412_ID_Guantanamo_main_1000.jpg A soldier stands guard at the front gate entrance to Guantanamo’s Camp 6 maximum-security detention facility, at Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base, Cuba, May 12, 2009.

Prosecutors with the U.S. Defense Department have filed new and expanded charges against Hambali, the Guantanamo inmate from Indonesia accused of masterminding two bombings that killed more than 200 people in his homeland, a military commission spokesman said Friday.

The augmented accusations include an eighth charge alleging that Hambali, 55, conspired with al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and 47 others to commit terrorist attacks across Southeast Asia and elsewhere, according to a copy of the charge-sheet filed on April 5 that was obtained by BenarNews.

Among his co-conspirators, according to the document, were two Malaysian associates also detained in Guantanamo and Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, the alleged architect of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks that killed more than 3,000 people in the United States.

“We’ve received notification of new charges,” Ron Flesvig, spokesman of the Convening Authority of the Office of the Military Commissions, told BenarNews.

Flesvig said he could not explain why prosecutors filed the new charge, even though military authorities never moved forward with the initial seven charges that were filed in June 2017 and in December of the same year.

Hambali’s lawyer, Maj. James Valentine, mocked the filing of the conspiracy charge as the prosecution’s “desperate attempt” to salvage the military commission’s credibility. American authorities did not want Hambali’s case to go to court because the trial would reveal the torture that his client had suffered from his military captors, Valentine alleged.

“I don’t think the U.S. possesses the moral authority or the practical ability to try this case because in order to try this case, in accordance with human rights standards and rule of law standards, they have to reveal the crimes of torture,” Valentine told BenarNews.

He questioned the U.S. government’s move to assert jurisdiction on the case, instead of allowing Hambali to face trial in Indonesia, where most of his alleged crimes took place.

“He is an Indonesian citizen and he is being charged for crimes that occurred on Indonesian soil,” Valentine said. “I think it is an insult to the Republic of Indonesia for the U.S. to capture and then to try that citizen rather than return him to Indonesia.”

Just like the two previous charges filed in 2017, the latest charge sheet still accuses Hambali of involvement in the Oct. 12, 2002 bombings that killed 202 people, including 88 Australians, on the Indonesian island of Bali.

The seven charges include murder, terrorism and destruction of property. Hambali is also accused of orchestrating an August 2003 car-bomb attack that killed 11 people, including a Dutch man, and injured 150 others at the J.W. Marriott hotel in Jakarta.

In the new conspiracy charge, prosecutors also named radical Muslim preacher Abu Bakar Bashir, who is in prison in Indonesia, as one of his main co-conspirators. The latest legal document also provided details on his involvement in funding the Bali bombings and other terror plans in Australia and Southeast Asia, including the Philippines and Singapore.

Encep Nurjamen (also known as Hambali) is shown in an undated photo provided by the Federal Public Defenders Office, at the U.S. base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. [Federal Public Defender's Office via AP]
Encep Nurjamen (also known as Hambali) is shown in an undated photo provided by the Federal Public Defenders Office, at the U.S. base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. [Federal Public Defender's Office via AP]

Sent to a secret CIA prison network

Hambali, whose real name is Encep Nurjaman (alias Riduan Isamuddin), was arrested in Thailand in August 2003 with Malaysians Bashir Lap (alias Lilie) and Mohd Farik Bin Amin (alias Zubair). After the trio’s arrest, they were sent to a secret CIA prison network before they were moved to Guantanamo, a U.S. military prison in Cuba, on Sept. 4, 2006.

Military authorities under President Barack Obama had classified the trio as “indefinite detainees” under the Law of War, alleging that they were involved in war crimes that stretched from 1993 and were considered too dangerous to release.

Under the U.S. military’s legal system, charges that have been sworn-in by prosecutors would need approval from the Convening Authority, the office overseeing the commissions, which can decide if the case would go to trial.

Indonesian officials had indicated three years ago that if Hambali were to be released, they would be reluctant to accept his repatriation for fear that his return could spark a revival among domestic terror cells.

Valentine, Hambali’s lawyer, told BenarNews on Thursday that Indonesian’s officials had never been allowed to visit his client, who, he alleged, remains chained while in solitary confinement.

“He’s chained to the floor the entire time,” Valentine said, adding that his client “has suffered the debilitating effects of torture.” He declined to elaborate.

Almost 18 years after the 9/11 terror attacks, the military commission system is still wrestling with how much evidence related to torture can be used during trial in Guantanamo, according to the New York Times.

“They can never let the world know what they did to him, so how can they have a fair trial?” Valentine said.

Officials interviewed by BenarNews said they could not explain why it took Pentagon prosecutors more than 10 years to prepare the charges against Hambali.

According to the so-called Senate “Torture Report,” which was approved for public release in December 2012, Hambali was not “waterboarded,” but other “enhanced interrogation techniques” used against him included long stretches of being shackled in painful positions and being slammed into a wall or being kept in nude and confined in a coffin-like box.

‘There is no such option’

In Jakarta on Friday, Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir confirmed that the Indonesian government’s access to Hambali was limited because he was being held in a military facility.

“The process follows military rules, all of his lawyers are military lawyers. There’s is a military process there as he is considered a military prisoner and they follow military laws,” he told BenarNews.

He also said Indonesian embassy staff had met with Hambali's attorneys.

Asked whether Indonesia had requested Hambali’s repatriation, Arrmanatha replied, “Is there an option?”

“There is no such option,” he said. “This is because he is being detained in a military prison.”

Ahmad Syamsudin and Tia Asmara in Jakarta contributed to this report.


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