Criminal trial for Bali terror suspect?
Obama looking at security measures
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