US court charges Hambali over 2002 Bali blasts

Hambali was captured in Thailand in 2003, and has been held at Guantanamo Bay since 2006.
Hambali was captured in Thailand in 2003, and has been held at Guantanamo Bay since 2006.

Indonesian also faces charges over 2003 Jakarta hotel attack

WASHINGTON • A United States war court has charged an Indonesian detainee in connection with the Bali bombings in 2002 that killed 202 people, according to court documents obtained by the Associated Press.

Riduan Isamuddin, also known as Hambali,who is being held at Guantanamo Bay, was also charged in connection with an attack on the JW Marriott in Jakarta in 2003.

According to rules of the US military commission, a military court will later decide whether a trial will be held.

The charge against Hambali was welcomed by Australia. The Bali attack, which was the deadliest terror strike in Indonesia, killed 88 Australians.

The attack on Oct 12, 2002 was carried out by a suicide bomber who blew himself up inside a nightclub jammed with tourists at a popular beach.

The blast killed many instantly and forced others to run outside.

Another suicide bomber detonated a massive bomb loaded in a car parked on the street in front of two clubs.

Seven Americans and 38 Indonesian citizens were also among the dead.

"I hope that should this prosecution succeed, it will bring closure to those devastated by the loss of loved ones, family and friends," Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told reporters.

"It has been a scar on the hearts of all Australians since these attacks occurred in 2002."

Hambali was charged on seven different counts, including terrorism and murder in violation of the law of war, The Miami Herald reported, citing a charge sheet dated June 20.

He is accused of directing three explosions on Oct 12, 2002, which hit a bar, a nightclub and the US consulate in Bali.

Hambali was captured in Bangkok, Thailand, in 2003. He has been held at Guantanamo Bay without charge since 2006.

The Afghanistan-war veteran, dubbed the "Osama bin Laden of South-east Asia", was seen as the main link between South-east Asian militant group Jemaah Islamiah and Al-Qaeda.

Last year, a US government review board rejected Hambali's release, saying he continued to be a "significant threat to the security of the United States".

The charge against Hambali comes amid an upsurge of fighting and attacks around the world led by militants linked to the newest terrorist group, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Militants linked to ISIS are still holding on to the Filipino city of Marawi after five weeks of fighting.

Meanwhile, Indonesian ISIS militants have issued a new threat against Malaysia and its security forces, The Star newspaper reported yesterday. Their main target is the Malaysian police's counter- terrorism division chief, Deputy Commissioner Ayob Khan.

It was learnt that ISIS has been calling on its comrades in Malaysia to eliminate Datuk Ayob.

REUTERS, THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 25, 2017, with the headline 'US court charges Hambali over 2002 Bali blasts'. Print Edition | Subscribe