Three Guantanamo prisoners are accused of terrorism and murder in bombings that occurred in Indonesia twenty years ago. They were members of Jemaah Islamiyah - an extremist group formed in the 1980s to establish an Islamic state in Southeast Asia.
In October 2002, a suicide-bomber and a truck-bomb detonated in nightclubs on Bali, killing over 200 people. Most of them were Australians, Indonesians, and seven Americans. In August 2003, a car bombing in Jakarta killed 11 people.
After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the U.S. Government considered both attacks to be acts of war committed by an Al Qaeda affiliate. This made them eligible for a trial before a military tribunal at Guantanamo.
The maximum sentence for the charges, including attempted murder, is life imprisonment.
The C.I.A. held all three men. According to their lawyers, they were tortured in the early years.
The prosecution has proposed that the trial be held in 2025.
The defendants appeared in court on August 20, 2021, almost 18 years after their capture. The case had been pursued by prosecutors since 2016, when Brig. Gen. Mark S. Martins traveled to Malaysia to meet with a State Department representative to discuss the proposal that one of the defendants serve his sentence in Malaysia, as part of a cooperative agreement. The deal never materialized.
On the second day under the Biden administration, a Trump appointee decided to charge these men. The coronavirus epidemic delayed their arraignment.
According to the charges, 213 people died in total. The charge sheets also list 31 survivors, including three Americans, who were injured by the Marriott bombing.
The prosecution sponsored the attendance of four British victims' relatives at a hearing on April 20, 2023. They had been to Bali for a rugby match.
As guests of the prosecution, survivors or family members of those who have died can travel to Guantanamo to watch a week's worth of hearings. The Pentagon's Victim/Witness Assistance Program receives funding from Justice Department to cover their travel, hotel, and chaperones.
Hayes C. Larsen, a Navy officer, presided over the first two proceedings starting in August 2021. He was to retire in 2023. No new judge has been appointed. Commander Larsen, despite repeated protests by lawyers that defendants were unable to understand certain proceedings, has consistently ruled that the foreign language translation provided by the U.S. Government was adequate.
Encep Nurjaman (also known as Hambali) is the alleged ringleader
U.S. intelligence report say that he rose to become the 'operational leader' of Jemaah-Islamiyah, and sent followers to Afghanistan, including two of his co-defendants to learn terrorist techniques. In August 2003, he was captured by a joint U.S.-Thai intelligence raid near Bangkok and held incommunicado at a secret C.I.A. prison. For the next three year, he was held in a secret C.I.A. prison network.
According to a Senate report, Hambali was treated in such a way that an American interrogator said he would never take him to court. He told Hambali that "we could never let the rest of the world know what we have done."
The study also undermines the agency’s claim that the intelligence gathered from Hambali provided new information for the war on terrorism. The study questioned whether Hambali's interrogation led him to tell C.I.A. what they wanted to hear. Employees were told what they wanted. According to the Senate report, he later recanted and C.I.A. Officials found these retractions credible.
He was transferred from the United States to Guantanamo in September 2006. Although he was ostensibly sent there for trial, his first formal court appearance was in August 2021.
Mohammed Nazir Bin Lep, a suspected lieutenant
Bin Lep, a Malaysian native, has been described as a "key lieutenant" of Hambali by U.S. Intelligence. U.S. officials have confirmed that his nom de plume, or alias, is Lillie. He is accused of travelling to Afghanistan with his co-defendant Mohammed Farik Bin Amin in 2000 for jihadist instruction. During that time, prosecutors claim that Mr. Bin Lep defended Taliban positions during battles against Northern Alliance forces.
In his criminal charges, it is stated that he and Bin Amin traveled to Southeast Asia after the 9/11 attacks and conducted surveillance on potential terrorist targets, including the Israeli airline counter in the Bangkok airport. He is accused of smuggling arms into Thailand in order to plot post-9/11 terrorist attacks. He was arrested on the same day that Mr. Hambali, outside Bangkok, in August 2003. He spent the next 3 years with the C.I.A. prisons.
Mohammed Farik Bin Amin, a bagman accused
Bin Amin was also born in Malaysia. He was captured in Thailand two months before the other co-defendants and handed over to C.I.A. They held him incommunicado for a year until he transferred to Guantanamo in 2006. Zubair is his nom de guerre or alias according to U.S. officials. U.S. Intelligence has also described him as a "key lieutenant" of Hambali, who trained in Afghanistan and scouted targets with Bin Lep. He was also a go-between in Bangkok who received $50,000 that was used to finance the Marriott bombing.
The charges state that Mr. Bin Amin, Mr. Bin Lep and Osama Bin Laden met at Hambali's guesthouse in Afghanistan several months prior to the September 11 attacks. Both men agreed to participate in unrealized suicide missions aimed at American targets.
Col. George C. Kraehe, an Army lawyer who is a member of the National Security Division of the Justice Department and was mobilized as a war-court prosecutor, is the lead prosecutor. The team also includes Maj. Imelda Antonio, of the Air Force, Lt. Col. Joshua S. Bearden, and Capt. Marcus J. Colicelli, Army; Lt. Patrick R. Rigney, and Lt. Jeffrey M. Larson, Navy.
Brig. Brig. Gen. Jackie L. Thompson Jr., Army.
James R. Hodes is Mr. Hambali's lead attorney. He works with Cmdr. Eric S. Nelson, Lt. Ryan Hirschler and Lt. Coll. Geoffrey S. DeWeese from the Navy. Maj. Cristina D. Curl and David Akerson a civilian.
Brian Bouffard is the lead attorney for Mr. Bin Lep. He previously worked as a lawyer in the Navy. Also representing him are Maj. Jason Cordova, an Air Force officer, Lt. Jennifer Joseph, of the Navy, and Aaron Shepard a civilian.
M. Bin Amin's attorneys are Christine A. Funk (civilian) who is the lead attorney, Lt. Col. Chantell Hicks of the Marines and Lt. Crystal Curtis, of the Navy.
The Pentagon started building a new courtroom in Guantanamo bay, which can hold three defendants for a single trial. The main courtroom can hold up to six prisoners, and it was intended to have two simultaneous hearings. The new chamber, which cost $4 million, was not yet ready by summer 2023. Judges rescheduled hearings to avoid scheduling conflicts.
The court opened late because the court decided to add a special viewing gallery that would allow the public to listen to the case on a 40 second delay. This feature was added to the larger courtroom, but was not initially included in the smaller court.