29 August 2009

Hambali and the Bali Bombings

Riduan Isamuddin (AKA Hambali) was arrested in Thailand in 2003, and after having been the alleged recipient of some free travel around the world to a number of ghost prisons, ended up in Guantanamo Bay as a guest of the US. This is presumably for the duration of the war on terror. However, since Barack Obama has taken office, it has become a little uncertain as to what lies ahead for some of these detainees.

In any event, there is little doubt that Hambali gave up a fair bit of intelligence under the enhanced interrogation techniques used on him, like waterboarding. Nevertheless, even with the favourable rules of evidence that the military tribunals were going to be working under, the US has some doubts that it could currently make a case against Hambali for the Bali Bombings. Hambali was the head of a Jemaah Islamiyya cell that had operational responsibilities for Malaysia and Singapore. This cell was known as Mantiqi One.

The problem is apparently not a lack of evidence, but rather a lack of evidence that prosecutors would be able to adduce and then use in court to prove Hambali's guilt. Nevertheless, it is generally thought that Hambali ordered the targeting of "soft targets" and was the main man when it came to funding the bombings.

Yet, the US authorities are a lot more confident that they can link him to a string of other bombings in Indonesia. It has only been this year that the Indonesian authorities have been granted access to Hambali for interrogation purposes. This is interesting in itself as the majority of Hambali's alleged crimes have occurred in Indonesia and have predominantly killed Indonesians. The two series of bombings that the authorities believe present as the strongest cases against Hambali are the Marriott bombing of 2003 and the Christmas Eve bombings.

If the military tribunals are reconvened, and the rules are not drastically changed, then it would seem that military prosecutors would seek to see Hambali charged with murder and then pursue the death penalty for him.

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