Guantanamo Detainee Faces First Terror Charges Under Trump Administration

US Navy guards escort a detainee through Camp Delta, June 10, 2008. REUTERS/DOD/1ST LT. SARAH CLEVELAND
REUTERS/DOD/1ST LT. SARAH CLEVELAND

The war court at Guantanamo Bay has charged an Indonesian detainee with directing two terrorist attacks in the first new terror charges there under the Donald Trump administration, according to a recent report.

Riduan “Hambali” Isomuddin, 53, has been “charged with directing the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings and the 2003 attack on the JW Marriott in Jakarta” that together killed more than 200 people, according to the Miami Herald.

Hambali (Riduan Isamuddin) is a 53-year-old citizen of Indonesia. He is one of seventeen high-value detainees. As of January 2010, the Guantanamo Review Task Force had recommended him for prosecution. As of June 27, 2017, he has been held at Guantanamo for ten years and nine months.

A senior Pentagon official who is the civilian overseeing the court, Harvey Rishikof, will decide whether to go forward and to authorize a death-penalty case. Hambali would be the 11th of 41 detainees in war crimes proceedings.

Hambali’s charge sheet – dated June 20 and obtained by the Herald – alleges he directed three simultaneous bombings on October 12, 2002, in a pub, near a dance club and the U.S. consulate, that killed 202, including 88 Australians, 38 Indonesians, and seven Americans.

According to the Herald, the death toll in Bali “surprised” Hambali, and “he did not expect so many people to die.”

Hambali in 2003 had deputies pick up $50,000 from al-Qaeda, sent by a courier from Pakistan, to fund a terrorist operation. The courier, Majid Khan, pleaded guilty to the crime in 2012 and agreed that the money could have been used to fund the 2003 attack on the JW Marriott, which killed eleven and wounded three Americans.

The Herald notes that Hambali has been at Guantanamo since September 2006 and that “it is not known why it took more than a decade for the Pentagon prosecutor to prepare charges.”

Former President Barack Obama had promised to shut down the detention facility at the Guantanamo military base in Cuba and move detainees to the U.S., but Republicans and Democrats in Congress repeatedly rejected his efforts to do so. He also faced some resistance from former Defense Secretaries Chuck Hagel and Ashton Carter, who as defense secretary were ultimately responsible for releasing or transferring the detainees.

The Trump administration supports keeping the military detention facility open, and Army Col. James Pohl, the judge presiding over the war court, has questioned whether the court has adequate facilities to accommodate all scheduled hearings in 2018.

Hambali is one of 17 high-value detainees of 41 being held at Guantanamo, according to a project by the New York Times.

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