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    » 03/10/2009, 00.00

    INDONESIA

    Guantanamo detainee Hambali is the mastermind of the Bali massacre and the attack against Christians

    Mathias Hariyadi

    He is being accused by two former militants of Jemaah Islamiah, sentenced to life in prison for their involvement in attacks on churches in 2000. The country is facing the problem of where he should be sent: his return home would strengthen the fundamentalist wing of the country, which considers him a "hero" because of his years in Guantanamo.

    Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Riduan “Hambali” Isamudin is the mastermind who planned the massacre in Bali in 2002, and the attacks against Christian churches and buildings in 2000. The accusation comes from Mubarok and Ali Imron, both members of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), who say they are willing to testify against the operational chief of the Islamic fundamentalist movement in southeast Asia, who is being held in the detention center in Guantanamo.

    Mubarok and Ali Imron are being held in the prison in Jakarta, where they are serving a life sentence for their involvement in the attack against churches in the country. In 2000, a coordinated series of bombs exploded in six different provinces, killing 19 people in the period before Christmas. They avoided the death penalty by demonstrating "remorse," and cooperating with security forces to shed light on the attacks. "Hambali brainwashed our mind to stage a jihad war against non-Islam followers," Imron says.

    The accusations issued by the two former jihadists and the possible closing of the Guantanamo detention center raise a serious problem for Indonesian authorities: should Hambali return to the country, or is it preferable for him to remain in a foreign nation? It is not an insignificant question: on the one hand, his return would provide investigators with the possibility of interrogating him; he could also clarify his relationship with the religious fundamentalist Abu Bakar Baasyir, head of JI in southeast Asia. On the other hand, it could create a substantial security problem: the fact that he spent many years in the Cuban prison could elevate him to the status of "martyr" in the fight against the West. "“If Hambali returns back to Indonesia, he’s certainly becoming a hero," says a police official. "He served in Guantanamo. He’ll be a rock star. That’s why, it’s preferable for us that he is kept in the United States."

    Sidney Jones, an expert on terrorism, says that "if you think Abu Bakar Baasyir was treated as a celebrity, the score for Hambali is 10 times (due to his record as Guantanamo veteran)." Chief of police Bambang Hendarso Danuri says that United States authorities should keep Hambali out of Indonesia for obvious reasons of security. He says the interrogations can be conducted abroad, and there is no need for the work to be done in Indonesia.

    Anonymous police sources say that last February, a group of experts in Indonesia's anti-terrorism department met with Hambali in Guantanamo. The terrorist, who was in good health, is said to have confessed his involvement in the bombing attacks on the churches. So far, the Indonesian foreign minister and the U.S. embassy in Jakarta have not wanted to release any statements regarding an "agreement" on who should keep the terrorist.

    Although there has been no official statement, it seems evident that the Indonesian authorities prefer to leave the hot potato in other hands. At the moment, there is not sufficient proof to incriminate Hambali in the Bali massacre, and the confession of the two terrorists does not seem to be enough. Moreover, the antiterrorism law of 2002 is not retroactive, and cannot be used in procedures against him. Hambali would therefore need to answer "only" for the attack on the churches in 2000.

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    See also

    12/03/2009 INDONESIA
    "Martyrs' Trilogy," memoirs of Bali attackers exalted as heroes
    The intelligence services are on high alert for the publication of a book containing the writings of Amrozi, Ali Gufron, and Imam Samudra. This could encourage young Indonesians to jihad. New extremist leaders are emerging in the country, praising the holy war against the West and Christians.

    06/11/2008 INDONESIA
    Execution of Bali bombers tomorrow. Island on high alert
    The authors of the massacre in 2002 will be killed by firing squad tomorrow at dawn. Indonesian security forces are afraid of terrorist attacks and violent demonstrations, even following the execution of the three Islamic militants. Extraordinary security measures to protect possible targets of attacks in the country.

    27/11/2008 INDIA
    India, long a target of terror (overview)
    At least 600 dead since 2002: this is the tally of terrorist attacks that have struck the country over the past six years.

    21/10/2008 INDONESIA
    Last appeal rejected for three condemned in Bali bombing
    The Indonesian constitutional court has upheld their execution by firing squad. A request from lawyers of one of the three, Amrozi bin H. Nurhasyim, has been rejected. The Tim Pengacara Muslim was asking for execution by decapitation, respectful of Islamic law and without excessive suffering.

    04/07/2008 INDONESIA
    Sumatra: Western tourists in sights of Islamic terrorists
    Police sources reveal this following the capture of a fundamentalist group linked to Jemaah Islamiyah, an Indonesian cell close to al-Qaeda. 22 high-power bombs discovered, intended to strike sensitive spots on the island.



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