Crim­i­nal trial for Bali ter­ror sus­pect?

Obama looking at se­cu­rity mea­sures

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - WORLD -

WASH­ING­TON: The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion is con­sid­er­ing a crim­i­nal trial in Wash­ing­ton for the Guan­tanamo Bay de­tainee sus­pected of mas­ter­mind­ing the bomb­ing of a Bali night­club that killed 202 peo­ple, a plan that would bring one of the world’s most no­to­ri­ous ter­ror­ism sus­pects just steps from the US Capi­tol.

Rid­uan Isamud­din, bet­ter known as Ham­bali, was al­legedly Osama bin Laden’s point man in In­done­sia and, un­til his cap­ture in Au­gust 2003, was be­lieved to be the main link be­tween al-Qaeda and Je­maah Is­lamiyah, the ter­ror group blamed for the 2002 bomb­ing on the is­land of Bali.

Other ter­ror­ism tri­als also may oc­cur in Wash­ing­ton and New York City un­der a pro­posal be­ing dis­cussed within the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, ac­cord­ing to US of­fi­cials.

Au­thor­i­ties al­ready have be­gun dis­cussing the in­tense se­cu­rity mea­sures needed to bring Ham­bali and oth­ers be­fore a Wash­ing­ton fed­eral judge, the of­fi­cials said.

Con­duct­ing a trial in the na­tion’s cap­i­tal would be a sym­bolic re­pu­di­a­tion of the poli­cies of for mer pres­i­dent Ge­orge Bush, who por­trayed Ham­bali as a suc­cess story in the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion’s pro­gramme of in­ter­ro­gat­ing ter­ror sus­pects in se­cret over­seas.

Bush said such in­ter­ro­ga­tions helped crack al­leged Sep- tem­ber 11 mas­ter­mind Khalid Sheikh Mo­hammed and led au­thor­i­ties to Ham­bali. Un­der in­tense ques­tion­ing at a CIA “black site”, Ham­bali re­vealed a plan for an­other wave of sui­cide hi­jack­ings in the US, Bush said.

Obama al­ready has de­cided that Mo­hammed will face trial in New York and has said he be­lieves crim­i­nal courts can han­dle even the most danger­ous ter­ror­ists. If Ham­bali’s trial were held in Wash­ing­ton’s fed­eral court­house, the coun­try’s most sig­nif­i­cant ter­ror­ism tri­als in gen­er­a­tions will be con­ducted in the two cities tar­geted in the Septem­ber 11 at­tacks.

But as Obama tries to close the mil­i­tary-run de­ten­tion cen­tre at Guan­tanamo Bay, Cuba, he has found that mov­ing de­tainees into US courts is more dif­fi­cult than he spelled out dur­ing his pres­i­den­tial cam­paign. Ham­bali was among 14 of ‘key al-Qaeda op­er­a­tives’ moved from CIA cus­tody to Guan­tanamo Bay in 2006.

Some Guan­tanamo pris­on­ers have been cleared for release for more than a year, but the US can’t find any coun­try to take them. Other de­tainees are deemed too danger­ous to release, but pros­e­cu­tors don’t have enough ev­i­dence to charge them in court. And pros­e­cut­ing peo­ple like Mo­hammed and Ham­bali risks re­veal­ing more de­tails about the classified in­ter­ro­ga­tion pro­gramme. – Sapa-AP

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