Malaysia against releasing Bali bomber Hambali from prison

The many faces of South-east Asian terror mastermind Riduan Isamuddin, also known as Hambali.
The many faces of South-east Asian terror mastermind Riduan Isamuddin, also known as Hambali. PHOTO: THE STAR

JOHOR BARU (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysia has said it hopes the United States Periodic Review Board will reject a petition by known Indonesian terrorist Hambali, also known as Riduan Isamuddin, for his release from Guantanamo Bay prison.

The government sees the former Al-Qaeda leader as a major security threat to South-east Asia.

"Hambali is a dangerous individual, if his appeal were to go through, I hope the Indonesian authorities detain him," said Deputy Home Affairs Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed.

He said Hambali's presence in the region could "bring a new dawn" for terrorist groups that were now lacking a good and experienced leader capable of supplying them with firearms and bombs.

Hambali was "a star attraction" to such groups because of his time with Al-Qaeda and as a key figure in the regional terror network, said Datuk Nur Jazlan, after a working visit to the Home Ministry Complex at Setia Tropika in Johor Baru on Monday (Aug 22).

The man, who wreaked havoc in the region and masterminded the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202, is seeking his release from Guantanamo where he has been detained for 13 years.

US President Barack Obama has pledged to close the prison. With his administration nearing its end, the board is reviewing the cases of prisoners with the aim of releasing them.

Hambali, now 52, was 38 years old when he was caught and was held in a US prison overseas for three years before being transferred to Guantanamo on Sept 4, 2006.

He was behind the bombings of churches in Indonesia and a 2003 plot to kill world leaders at a Bangkok conference. He was referred to by some as the Osama bin Laden of South-east Asia.