U.S. Military Moves To Try 3 Guantanamo Suspects Linked To Indonesia Bombings
After years of delay, a decision by the Pentagon could mean three men accused of being behind terrorist attacks in Indonesia nearly 20 years ago could soon get a military trial.
The men, Encep Nurjaman, Mohammed Nazir Bin Lep, and Mohammed Farik Bin Amin, have been held in U.S. custody since their arrest in 2003 in Thailand. They were later transferred to the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where they have been held since, according to The Associated Press.
The three are accused of planning and helping to carry out the deadly bombing attack at a Bali nightclub in 2002, which killed 202 people, and another attack a year later at the J.W. Marriott Hotel in Jakarta, which killed 11 people and wounded dozens. The U.S. government alleges tht Nurjaman was a leader of Jemaah Islamiyah, a Southeast Asian affiliate of al-Qaeda.
The case against the trio has reportedly been on hold throughout the Trump administration, after military officials declined to move forward on charges filed in 2017 against only Nurjaman. The Department of Defense appears set to move forward with a military trial of all three under the new Biden administration. It's unclear why there was a change.
On Thursday, a senior military legal official approved a list of official, non-capital charges facing the men. They include conspiracy, murder, attempted murder, intentionally causing serious bodily injury, terrorism, attacking civilians, attacking civilian objects, destruction of property, and accessory after the fact, all in violation of the law of war, the department said.
These charges will be sent to a military commission, a court designated to handle cases related to war and terrorism. The department said, "The charges are only allegations that the accused committed offenses punishable under the Military Commissions Act, and the accused are presumed innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt."
With official charges submitted, the U.S. must arraign the prisoners before a military commission at Guantanamo, a location that has suspended court proceedings due to the pandemic.
It's unclear how soon their case will move forward, though the Department of Defense said their arraignment is "pending." [Copyright 2021 NPR]