A senior military legal official approved non-capital charges including conspiracy, murder and terrorism for the three men, who have been in U.S. custody for 17 years for their alleged roles in the 2002 Bali attacks, and a second attack a year later. of a JW Marriott Hotel in Jakarta.
The Bali bombings killed 202 victims, including 88 Australians, while the JW Marriott attack killed 12.
General Lloyd Austin, Biden’s nominee to be secretary of defense, this week reaffirmed his intention to close Guantánamo to the Senate committee considering his nomination.
“The timing here is obvious, one day after the inauguration,” said Marine Corps Major James Valentine, the appointed military attorney for the most prominent of the three.
“This was done in a panic before the new administration could be established.”
A spokesman for the military commissions, which have been bogged down for years by legal challenges focused primarily on the brutal treatment of men during their previous confinement in CIA detention centers, did not immediately comment.
Military prosecutors brought charges against Encep Nurjaman, an Indonesian known as Hambali, and the other two men in June 2017. The case was rejected by the Pentagon legal official known as the convening authority for reasons that are not publicly known.
“The case fell apart for them. I can’t tell you why, because that’s classified, ”said Valentine, part of Hambali’s legal team.
Now that the convening authority has approved the charges, the United States must accuse the prisoners before the military commission at the Cuba base. Legal proceedings at Guantanamo have been halted over the pandemic and it is unclear when they will resume.
Hambali is alleged to have been the leader of Jemaah Islamiyah, a Southeast Asian affiliate of al-Qaida. The Pentagon said in a brief statement on the case that it is accused along with Mohammed Nazir Bin Lep and Mohammed Farik Bin Amin, who are from Malaysia, of planning and assisting in the attacks.
All three were captured in Thailand in 2003 and held in CIA custody before being taken to Guantánamo three years later.
In December, Indonesian police arrested a man believed to be the military leader of the Jemaah Islamiyah network.
The most prominent Guantanamo case, involving five men accused in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, has been stalled in the pre-trial phase since his appearance in May 2012. No date has been set for the trial with the death penalty.
The United States holds 40 men at Guantanamo. President Barack Obama attempted to close the detention center, transfer the prisoners to facilities within the United States and transfer the military trials to a civilian court.
Obama reduced the prisoner population, but his effort to close Guantanamo was blocked by Congress, which prohibited the transfer of anyone from the base to the United States for any reason.
Biden has said he is in favor of closing the detention center, but has yet to reveal his plans for the facility. In written testimony before the Senate, Austin said he would work with other members of the administration to develop a “way forward” toward the shutdown.
“I think it is time for the Guantanamo detention center to close its doors,” he said.