By Carmen L. Gleason
American Forces Press Service
April 13, 2007 – An alleged al Qaeda leader being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, denied involvement in bombings in both Indonesia and Singapore, according to a transcript of his hearing released yesterday. Riduan bin Isomuddin, known as "Hambali," either declined to answer or said he had no involvement with the operations brought forth during his April 4 combatant status review tribunal hearing at the detention facility.
The tribunal was an administrative hearing to determine only if the detainee could be designated as an enemy combatant.
Hambali said that while he was a member of Jemaah Islamiyah, a Southeast Asian militant Islamic organization, he had no interaction with al Qaeda.
Evidence presented during the hearing showed that he had been the operations chief of Jemaah Islamiyah and served as its main contact for al Qaeda in Southeast Asia. He also helped recruit members for al Ghuraba, the foreign student organization that helped develop Jemaah Islamiyah organization in Pakistan.
He also had served as the leader of the Malaysia Mujahedin group, according to U.S. government information presented in the hearing. That group's mission is to topple the Indonesian government. During the hearing, a Federal Bureau of Investigation source was cited as having contact with Hambali when he orchestrated and funded the December 2000 bombing of a church in Indonesia that killed 18 people.
An FBI source also stated that in January 2002 the detainee discussed carrying out attacks in bars, cafes and night clubs frequented by westerners in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Indonesia. The source said the detainee claimed to have 1 ton of explosives within Indonesia.
After Hambali allegedly discussed bombing such places and having large amounts of explosives, at least 187 people were killed and more than 300 foreign tourists were injured in October 2002 when an explosion destroyed a nightclub on the Indonesian resort island of Bali.
In his hearing, Hambali denied having supervised the plan to bomb the U.S., Australian and British embassies in Singapore. However, an FBI source stated that the detainee served as the point man between al Qaeda operatives and the mastermind in this plan, which government officials called the "Singapore plot."
Other evidence presented during the hearing showed that a document seized during Hambali's arrest provided instructions for manufacturing vest bombs used by suicide bombers. However, Hambali said he had "no answer" when he was asking during the hearing what his involvement was in making explosives.
The hearing came to a close when the hearing president said an assessment would be made as to whether the detainee continued to pose a threat to the United States or coalition partners in the ongoing conflict against terrorist organizations. The detainee was told that he would have the opportunity to be heard and to present relevant information later to an administrative review board.
The government implemented the CSRTs in July 2004 in response to a June 28, 2004, Supreme Court ruling in the case of Rasul v. Bush. The court ruled that enemy combatants held by the U.S. government had the right to contest their status before a judge or other neutral decision maker.
Between July 2004 and March 2005, DoD conducted 558 CSRTs at Guantanamo Bay. At the time, 38 detainees were determined to no longer meet the definition of enemy combatant, and 520 detainees were found to be enemy combatants.
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