Indonesian, Malaysian Terror Suspects to Be Arraigned at Guantanamo Aug. 30

John Bechtel
Washington
2021-06-28
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Indonesian, Malaysian Terror Suspects to Be Arraigned at Guantanamo Aug. 30 Amnesty International protesters hold photos of inmates held at the U.S. Naval Station in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, during a protest at the NATO summit in Brussels, June 14, 2021.
AP

Three Southeast Asian terror suspects held since 2006 at a U.S. military base in Cuba are to be arraigned Aug. 30 on charges tied to deadly bombings in Indonesia, the Pentagon said Monday, after their initial court date was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Indonesian national Hambali, whose real name is Encep Nurjaman, and Malaysians Mohammed Nazir bin Lep and Mohammed Farik bin Amin, had been scheduled to be arraigned before a military court at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay in February on charges related to their alleged roles in large-scale terrorist attacks in Bali in 2002 and Jakarta in 2003.

Earlier this month, military judge Cmdr. Hayes C. Larsen denied requests from prosecutors to move up the arraignment based on improved conditions amid the pandemic.

“With the increased availability of COVID-19 vaccines, decreasing infection rates, and an overall improvement in the pandemic environment, the government now seeks reconsideration of the commission’s order setting the arraignment for 30 August 2021,” prosecutors had said, according to a June 16 ruling.

Larsen also denied a request from defense lawyers to delay until “adequate representation and resources are available,” in a separate ruling filed on the same day.

“There is currently a single courtroom available at NSGB [Naval Station Guantanamo Bay] to conduct sessions/hearings, thus scheduling must take into account the docketing orders in other Military Commissions cases,” Larsen ruled.

In a news release issued Monday, the U.S. Department of Defense included the arraignment date for the three Southeast Asian while announcing that seats would be allocated on a military-charter flight for members of the media who wish to travel to Cuba for the court hearing.

A spokesman for the Office of Military Commissions did not immediately respond to a BenarNews request seeking more information about the Aug. 30 arraignment.

Murder, other charges

Hambali faces eight charges while the Malaysians face nine, according to charge sheets uploaded online by the Office of Military Commissions. All three are charged with conspiracy, murder, attempted murder, intentionally causing serious bodily injury, terrorism, attacking civilians, attacking civilian objects, and destruction of property.

The two Malaysians also face a charge of accessory after the fact – “all in violation of the law of war.”

Authorities have said the charges do not carry the death penalty.

The trio were arrested in Thailand in 2003 and sent to a secret CIA prison network before being moved to Guantanamo in September 2006.

A U.S. military profile of Hambali described him as an operational mastermind for Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), a Southeast Asian militant group affiliated with al-Qaeda, the group that carried out the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

Indonesian authorities blamed JI for carrying out bombings that killed 202 people in Bali in October 2002 – the deadliest terrorist attack to date in Indonesia.

Authorities in the U.S. allege Hambali helped plan the 2002 Bali bombings as well as the 2003 bombing of the J.W. Marriott hotel in Jakarta that left 12 dead.

The upcoming arraignment will mark the first time that the three will be formally charged since they were sent to Guantanamo 15 years ago.

A U.S. Senate report on CIA detentions of terrorism suspects and interrogation techniques in years following the Sept. 11 attacks confirmed the use of torture.

Hambali was not water boarded, but other “enhanced interrogation techniques” used included long stretches of being shackled in painful positions and being slammed into a wall or being kept in the nude and confined in a coffin-like box, according to that report.

Indonesian officials indicated in 2016 that if Hambali were to be released, they would be reluctant to allow his return over fears it could spur a revival among domestic terror cells.

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