An Indonesian who helped plan the 2002 Bali bombings still poses “a significant threat” to the United States and will remain locked up at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where he has stayed for 10 years, a review board has determined.
Inmate Encep Nurjaman, who is also known as Hambali and has been linked to al-Qaeda, should stay at Guantanamo Bay to protect against an ongoing threat to U.S. security, a Department of Defense (DOD) Periodic Review Board found by consensus in a final determination released on Tuesday.
A DOD 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. Hambali helped plan the Bali bombings that killed 202 people in 2002 and a series of Christmas Eve bombings at 30 churches across Indonesia two years earlier.
During a hearing before the board in August, Hambali said he had no ill will toward the United States. Media reported it was the first time he had been seen in public since being sent to the military prison in September 2006.
While Hambali did not speak at that hearing, a U.S. military officer read a statement on his behalf. In it, Hambali presented himself as a changed man.
“Hambali has stated he has no ill will towards the U.S. He believes America has diversity and sharing of power which is much better than a dictatorship. He states he wants nothing more than to move on with his life and be peaceful,” the statement said.
The review board rejected that claim, pointing to Hambali’s lengthy history as a militant, working as a facilitator, attending al-Qaeda training and having a significant role in major terror attacks including the Bali bombings.
“The Board noted that the detainee was not willing to accept any responsibility nor demonstrate any remorse for any of the activities or operations to which he has been connected, and the lack of supporting evidence of a change in mindset,” the board said in its final determination that was dated Sept. 19 but released on Tuesday.
“In fact, the Board noted that the detainee’s claimed change of mindset is contradicted by other reporting,” the board added. “Lastly, the Board considered the detainee’s testimony to be elusive and non-credible, including half-truths and clear attempts to minimize and conceal his pre-detention activities.”
In Jakarta on Wednesday, Indonesian National Police Chief Tito Karnavian declined to answer reporters’ questions about Hambali.
Two Malaysians remain at prison
The board’s decision follows similar determinations for two Malaysians who are also imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay and who served as lieutenants to Hambali, according to U.S. government documents.
Mohamad Bashir Lap and Mohamad Farik Amin remain incarcerated there while Malaysian and U.S. officials discuss the de-radicalization process necessary to potentially allow one of the them to return to Malaysia.
In its assessment of Bashir, dated Sept. 15, the board noted that it looked forward to reviewing his file in six months, and it encouraged the Malaysian government to prepare for his possible transfer out of Guantanamo. In Farik’s case, the board did not mention a potential review in six months and noted a lack of credible evidence that he could be de-radicalized.
At the time a U.S. State Department spokesman told BenarNews that all detainees who were not approved for transfer by the board would receive a file review in six months.