Indonesia Seeks Access to Guantanamo Terror Suspect

JAKARTA ~ Indonesia is prepared to try alleged Al-Qaeda bomb plotter Hambali if he is returned to his homeland after the planned closure of the US prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, police said.

Hambali was arrested in Thailand in 2003 on suspicion of being one of Al-Qaeda’s senior operatives in Southeast Asia and a top member of terror group Jemaah Islamiyah, blamed for a spate of deadly attacks across the region.

Indonesian police said Jakarta had asked the US authorities for permission to meet and interview Hambali at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba in anticipation of a possible handover once the prison camp is closed.

“We hope that we’ll have access to Hambali soon,” police spokesman Abubakar Nataprawira said.

US President Barack Obama signed an executive order last week to close the prison camp within a year, prompting speculation on whether Hambali – described by former president George W. Bush as one of the most dangerous men in the world – would be returned to Indonesia to stand trial.

“We’ll work together with the Foreign Ministry to see what opportunities are given to us, whether they (the US authorities) will only let us interview Hambali there or whether we can bring him here,” Nataprawira said.

“If we find enough evidence we can bring him to court.”

Jakarta has lodged several requests with Washington for access to Hambali, otherwise known as Riduan Isamuddin.

The Afghan war veteran who allegedly liaised between Al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiyah is accused of being at a meeting in Bangkok when top militants agreed to hit “soft targets” in Southeast Asia.

That meeting allegedly led to the 2002 nightclub bombings on the Indonesian resort island of Bali which killed 202 people, mostly foreign tourists.

One of Hambali’s brothers, Rusman Gunawan, was jailed for four years in 2004 for channeling US$50,000 from Pakistan to Indonesia at Hambali’s request.

The money was used to fund the 2003 Marriott hotel bombing in Jakarta that killed 12 people.

In a visit to the United States in 2006, Vice President Jusuf Kalla said Hambali should be brought before a court to stand trial.

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