A man dubbed South-East Asia’s Osama Bin Laden has been charged over the 2002 Bali bombings, which killed 202 people including 88 Australians.
Guantanamo Bay detainee Riduan “Hambali” Isomuddin faces charges with seven different counts, including murder in violation of the law of war and terrorism.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said she hoped that if the prosecution succeeds, it would bring some closure as it had been “a scar on the hearts of all Australians”.
The war court prosecutor has accused Hambali of directing three simultaneous attacks on the Indonesian island.
The legal brief paints a detailed picture of more than a decade of jihadi activity allegedly carried out by Hambali across the world, including attempts to plan terror attacks in Australia.
The night before the Bali bombing, it claims Hambali instructed an associate to rent a hotel room in Cambodia that carried CNN and that he was due to receive an email once the bombing had been carried out.
The charge sheet alleges Hambali “did not expect so many people to die” in the Bali attack and that “he was surprised by the outcome”.
It is the first time the alleged Bali bombing architect has been charged over his suspected role in the attack, which was found to have been carried out by terrorist organisation Jemaah Islamiyah.
Hambali charged over terrorism offences
Miami Herald reporter Carol Rosenberg, who broke the story about the charges, told ABC’s Saturday AM program a senior Pentagon official will now decide if the case proceeds to court and if the death penalty will be sought.
“These are war crimes that they charge at Guantanamo, at the military commissions war court, in which there is a military judge and military jury, American military,” Rosenberg said.
Hambali’s charge sheet, dated June 20, was obtained by the Miami Herald and alleges he directed three simultaneous bombings in Bali on October 12, 2002 — in a pub, near a dance club and the US Consulate.
Hambali was captured in Bangkok, Thailand in August 2003 and has been held in Guantanamo Bay without charge since 2006.
Rosenberg said before Hambali was transferred to Guantanamo, he was taken to a secret CIA prison network, where he was interrogated for three-and-a-half years.
She said the CIA had no intention of charging him with any crime until 2006, when then-president George Bush ordered the CIA sites closed and those prisoners were brought to Guantanamo to face trial.
“What’s intriguing about this is why it took so long,” Rosenberg said.
“The charge sheet says, as you know, he was the overseer of the Bali bombing and of another bombing in 2003 in Jakarta, Indonesia in American hotel the Marriot.”
Pentagon official will decide if charges proceed: report
On October 12, 2002 three bombs were detonated in busy nightspots in Bali, and one exploded outside the American consulate.
One bomb exploded inside Paddy’s Irish Pub on the Kuta Beach tourist strip. Moments later, a second, bigger bomb exploded in a van outside, levelling the Sari club.
A third bomb then exploded about 45 seconds later near the US consulate.
The attack represents the single largest loss of Australian life due to an act of terror.
In 2003, Hambali is also alleged by the war court prosecutor to have had deputies pick up money from Al Qaeda, which was sent by a courier from Pakistan, to fund a terrorist operation, the Miami Herald reports.
In 2016, Guantanamo Bay’s Periodic Review Board determined that Hambali’s detention was necessary “to protect against a continuing significant threat to the security of the United States”, adding that Hambali “remains steadfast in his support for extremist causes and his hatred for the US”.
The Periodic Review Boards were established in 2013 to review the cases of all prisoners held in the Guantanamo Bay prison who had not yet been approved for release or were not yet facing trials.
Rosenberg said Hambali is the first Guantanamo Bay detainee to be charged since President Donald Trump took office.