Alleged “Bin Laden of Indonesia” Receives Guantanamo Review Board Hearing

By Faria Rehman

Yesterday, Gitmo detainee Encep Nurjaman, better known by his alias, “Hambali,” appeared before the Periodic Review Board (PRB) for the first time to advocate for his release. One of 15 remaining “high-value” detainees, Hambali has been consistently referred to in both national and international media as the ”Bin Laden of Indonesia.”

According to the Senate intelligence committee’s torture report, he was considered “the CIA’s ‘number one target’ in Southeast Asia” shortly after the 9/11 attacks. The Indonesian government recently stated it considers it too great a danger for Hambali to return to the country. However, his representatives describe him as a “respectful and energetic” man, who “wants nothing more than to move on with his life and be peaceful.”

The U.S. government alleges that Hambali’s involvement in terrorism dates back to the 1980s, when he first began training as a jihadist in Afghanistan. From there, he purportedly branched out to participate in violent jihad across Southeast Asia.

The U.S. government believes that Hambali was involved in the 2000 Christmas Eve attacks, a series of bombings in churches across eight cities in Indonesia carried out by al Qaeda and the Indonesian group Jemaah Islamiyah. He allegedly helped plan the Bali bombings in 2002, which killed 202 and injured 209 more.

The government also alleges that in 2003 Hambali facilitated al Qaeda’s financing for the bombing of the Jakarta Marriott Hotel, which killed 12 people and injured 150. It also believes Hambali was involved in planning post-9/11 attacks against U.S. interests and that he provided a microbiologist to al Qaeda to assist it in developing an anthrax program.

Hambali was captured in 2003 and arrived at Guantanamo Bay in 2005. Despite the serious allegations against him, he has never been charged with a crime. Hambali is featured prominently in the Senate’s torture report, which notes he had been cooperative in response to “standard” interrogation techniques, but when subjected to so-called “enhanced interrogation” methods, Hambali “provided the false information in an attempt to reduce the pressure on himself … and to give an account that was consistent with what [Hambali] assessed the questioners wanted to hear.” The report also states that an interrogator said to Hambali: “We can never let the world know what I have done to you.”

Although Hambali’s personal representatives said he “has no ill will toward the U.S.,” and the government described him as “mostly compliant,” it also asserted that Hambali “remains steadfast in his support for extremist causes and his hatred for the US,” and “has been heard promoting violent jihad while leading daily prayers and lectures.”

There are currently 61 detainees still at Guantanamo, with 20 cleared for release. Four detainees are still eligible for their first PRB hearing and nine are waiting on decisions. The Obama Administration has stated that it plans to complete all initial PRB hearings and transfer all cleared detainees by this fall.


Published on August 19, 2016


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