Three Guantanamo Bay prisoners are charged with terrorism, murder and conspiracy in the Indonesian bombings 20 years ago as members of Jemaah Islamiyah, an extremist group founded in the 1980s with the goal of establishing an Islamic state. in Southeast Asia.
In one attack, a suicide bomber and truck bomb detonated Bali nightclubs in October 2002, killing more than 200 people, mostly Australians and Indonesians, plus seven Americans. Then, in August 2003, 11 people were killed in a car bomb at a Marriott hotel in Jakarta.
The US government considered both attacks acts of war carried out by an al Qaeda affiliate after the attacks of September 11, 2001, making them eligible to stand trial by military commission at Guantanamo Bay.
The charges, which also include attempted murder, carry a maximum penalty of life in prison.
The three men were held by the CIA in the first years of their detention and were tortured, according to their defense lawyers.
Prosecutors have proposed holding the trial in 2025.
The defendants were prosecuted in August 2021, 18 years after their capture. Prosecutors had been investigating the case since at least 2016, when the chief prosecutor at the time, Brig. General Mark S. Martins traveled to Malaysia with a State Department official to discuss a proposal for one of the defendants to serve his sentence there, in exchange for a cooperative agreement. An agreement was never reached.
Prosecutors continued to work on the case, and a Trump administration appointee made the decision to charge the men on the second day of the Biden administration. His arraignment was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.
A total of 213 people were killed in the attacks, according to the charges. In addition, an addendum to the charge sheets names 31 survivors, three of them Americans who were injured in the Marriott bombing.
Prosecutors sponsored a visit to a hearing in April 2023 by relatives of four British victims who had traveled to Bali, a popular island vacation spot, for a rugby tournament.
Survivors or their families can go to Guantanamo as guests of the prosecution to observe a week of hearings. His travel, hotel, and chaperones are provided through the Pentagon. Victim/Witness Assistance ProgramIt receives funding from the Department of Justice.
Navy Captain Hayes C. Larsen presided over the first two hearings, beginning with the arraignment in August 2021. He was expected to leave office in the summer of 2023. A new judge has not been appointed. Commander Larsen has repeatedly ruled, despite protests by lawyers that the defendants could not understand some of the proceedings, that the translation of the foreign language proceedings provided by the US government has been adequate. .
The accused ringleader: Ecep Nurjaman, known as Hambali
US intelligence reports say he took on the role of “operative mastermind” for Jemaah Islamiyah and, in the late 1990s, sent followers, including his two co-defendants, to Afghanistan to train in terrorist techniques. He was captured in a joint US-Thai intelligence raid outside Bangkok in August 2003 and held incommunicado in a secret CIA prison network for the next three years.
A Senate study found that he was subjected to such egregious treatment that an American interrogator told Hambali he would “never go to trial because ‘we can never let the world know what I’ve done to you.'”
The study also discredits the agency’s claims that intelligence drawn from it provided new information in the war on terror. He questioned whether Mr. Hambali, following his interrogation leads, told CIA employees what they wanted to hear. He later recanted himself, according to the Senate study, and CIA officials found those retractions credible.
He was transferred to Guantánamo Bay in September 2006, ostensibly for trial, but was not formally charged until his first court appearance in August 2021.
Mohammed Nazir Bin Lep: an accused lieutenant
A native of Malaysia, Mr. Bin Lep has been described by american intelligence as Mr. Hambali’s “key lieutenant”. US officials say his alias, or nom de guerre, is Lillie. He is accused of traveling with his co-defendant Mohammed Farik Bin Amin to Afghanistan in 2000 for jihadist training. Prosecutors say that during that time, Mr. Bin Lep protected Taliban positions in battles with Northern Alliance forces.
His criminal charges say that after the 9/11 attacks, he and Bin Amin traveled throughout Southeast Asia and monitored potential targets for terror attacks, including the counter of an Israeli airline at the Bangkok airport. He is also charged with smuggling weapons into Thailand as part of the conspiracy for the post-9/11 attacks. He was captured on the same day as Mr. Hambali outside Bangkok in August 2003 and spent the next three years in CIA prisons.
Mohammed Farik Bin Amin: an accused bagman
Mr. Bin Amin, also a Malaysian native, was captured two months before his co-defendants in Thailand and handed over to the CIA, which held him incommunicado until he was transferred to Guantanamo Bay in 2006. US officials say his alias, or nom de guerra, is Zubair. American intelligence has also called it a “key lieutenant” of Mr. Hambali who trained in Afghanistan, scouted potential targets with Mr. Bin Lep, and was a go-between who received around $50,000 in Bangkok that was ultimately used to finance the Marriott bombing.
The charges say that Mr. Bin Amin and Mr. Bin Lep spent several months before the 9/11 attacks in a guest house in Afghanistan run by Mr. Hambali and that both men met with Osama bin Laden and agreed to participate in unrealized activities. suicide operations directed at US targets.
The lead prosecutor in the case is the colonel. Jorge C. Kraehe of the Army, a lawyer in the Justice Department’s homeland security division who was called up to serve as a prosecutor in a court of war. Other members of the team include Air Force Maj. Imelda U. Antonio; Army Lt. Col. Joshua S. Bearden and Capt. Marcus J. Colicelli; and Lt. Patrick R. Rigney and Lt. Jeffrey M. Larson of the Navy.
The lead defense attorney is Brig. General Jackie L. Thompson Jr. of the Army.
Mr. Hambali is represented by James R. Hodes, a civilian serving as lead counsel for Cmdr. Eric S. Nelson and Navy Lt. Ryan Hirschler; Army Lt. Col. Geoffrey S. DeWeese; Major Cristina D. Curl of the Air Force; and David Akerson, a civilian.
Mr. Bin Lep is represented by Brian Bouffard, a civilian who serves as lead counsel and previously served in the Navy as counsel, with Air Force Maj. Jason Cordova; Navy Lt. Jennifer Joseph; and Aaron Shepard, a civilian.
Mr. Bin Amin is represented by Christine A.Funk, a civilian serving as lead counsel; Lt. Col. Chantell Higgins of the Marine Corps; and Lt. Cmdr. Crystal Curtis from the Navy.
In 2021, the Pentagon began building another courtroom at Guantánamo Bay with the capacity to try three defendants in a single case. Up to six prisoners can be tried in the main courtroom and the aim was to hold two hearings simultaneously. But the new $4 million courtroom was not yet ready in the summer of 2023, and the judges rescheduled the cases to avoid scheduling conflicts.
Part of the delay in the court opening was due to the court’s decision to add a special gallery so the public could watch the case live, but listen with a 40-second delay, a feature that was set up in the larger room but that was initially left out of the smaller courtyard.