Saturday, June 24, 2017

Australia asked to consider conducting trial of Bali terror mastermind


AMERICAN lawyers are asking for Australia’s help to save the life of alleged Bali terror mastermind Hambali, amid moves to transfer him from Guantánamo Bay to Malaysia to face execution.

Hambali, 52, or Riduan Isamuddin, is accused of orchestrating the deaths of 88 Australians and 114 others on October 12, 2002, by financing the attack through Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda network.

Hambali has spent 10 years in Guantanamo without charge. His lead lawyer, Ohio-based public defender Carlos Warner, says US authorities are trying to offload him to Malaysia, knowing he can never be tried in America.

“We’ve been advocating for a long time, mostly behind closed doors, for him to go to Australia,” Mr Warner told News Corp, saying it was the only place where Hambali could get a fair trial.

The trouble with trying Hambali in Australia is how our system would cope with such a high-profile Jihadist.

“We think that Australia is the right place for him to be because of the nature of the allegations. We also respect the due process that’s provided by Australian courts.

“Given what’s going on in Guantanamo, we have more faith in your courts than ours.”

Hambali was Jemaah Islamiah’s senior operational leader, based in Malaysia, from where he allegedly organised Bali, the 2000 Jakarta church bombings, the 2003 Jakarta JW Marriott bombing, and numerous other plots, including advance knowledge of 9/11.

Mr Warner is right that Australia’s legal system is among the most respected in the world, and the home of the majority of Bali victims; but love of due process and public tolerance has limits.

News Corp has been told the Australian government would flatly refuse to entertain a local trial for Hambali; and would make no interventions on his behalf were he sent to Malaysia.

Nor would Indonesia, which has said it does not want to take Hambali back for trial.

Australian survivors have expressed frustration with Guantanamo’s legal limbo. Some, like Peter Hughes, see the terror prison as a form of “safe haven” because it has prevented Hambali from answering for Bali.

Hughes, 56, who helped others escape the blast zone despite suffering serious burns, is just back from another regular visit to Bali (“I go sit on the beach, have a few beers, it’s all good”).

“The whole reason for Guantanamo was to get information,” he says. “They’ve exhausted all the information they can get from him and he’s worth nothing.

Victims would rather Hambali be tried in Malaysia where the punishment if he is convicted is death. Picture: Indonesian National Police, HO

“Malaysia or Indonesia, it doesn’t matter. They’ve both got the death penalty — but in Indonesia, he might be treated as a hero. Get him to Malaysia and get him killed, simple.”

Though Hambali is Indonesian, he spent years in Malaysia, where he came under the influence of now-jailed JI mentor Abu Bakar Bashir, then on the run from Indonesia. He allegedly gave his blessing for Hambali to take al Qaeda’s money for a South-East Asian terror program.

Hambali, who fought the Soviets in Afghanistan and joined the Filipino Islamist insurrection, allegedly dealt directly with Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, also in Guantanamo, accused of devising the 9/11 attack and taking it to bin Laden for approval; and of providing money to Hambali for Bali.

Hambali was arrested in Thailand in 2003 and moved about in secret CIA rendition prisons where he made admissions under torture. He arrived at Guantanamo in 2006. Then president George Bush, admitting he was in detention, called him “one of the world’s most lethal terrorists”.

It has been reported that US authorities flew to Malaysia in early November to discuss repatriating detainee Zubair, a former member of JI who is prepared to testify against Hambali and another Malaysian detainee, Lillie, in return for serving time at home.

Mr Warner says it is part of a strategy to offload Hambali to Malaysia, where he would likely face summary execution.

President Obama issued an executive order in 2008 to close the prison, which failed because of political opposition in the U.S. Picture: John Moore/Getty Images

Mr Warner says the US will not risk putting Hambali on trial, fearing the evidence would fail before a judge because it is tainted by his torture, detailed in the US Senate Select Committee’s 2014 report into the CIA’s illegal rendition program.

It also fears that key prosecution witnesses would be exposed as fellow jihadists who’ve done deals to save themselves. Mr Warner believes the Malaysian judiciary would overlook such concerns.

“I am convinced forces in the United States would like to see my client executed, or severely punished, that’s why it’s not going to happen in the US,” said Mr Warner. “It will happen in another country.”

Hambali faced a periodic review in September and was deemed a “significant continuing threat” to the US. He was recommended for ongoing indefinite detention under the Law of War.

US military guards reported Hambali had “emerged as a mentor and teacher to his fellow detainees, seemingly exerting influence over them and has been heard promoting violent jihad while leading daily prayers and lectures.”

US authorities, who have long been denounced for holding prisoners for years without trial, may have found an ideal Malaysian Solution.

President Barack Obama promised to shut Guantanamo upon taking office. He failed. President-elect Donald Trump said on the campaign trail: “We are keeping it open and we’re gonna load it up with some bad dudes, believe me, we’re gonna load it up.”

US President-elect Donald Trump plans to use Guantánamo Bay to lock up more ‘bad dudes’. Picture: Getty

Yet there is no apparent reason why Trump, as president, would object to a Malaysia deal.

Though Hambali can remain at Guantanamo indefinitely, the US has been forced to confront the extrajudicial problems of its offshore Cuban prison. It has transferred or released all but 60 of the 780 men who have been held since the facility began filling with terror suspects in 2002.

International law expert, Professor Ben Saul, from the University of Sydney, said the Terrorist Bombings Convention gave Australia jurisdiction over foreign terrorists who have harmed our citizens, meaning Hambali could face trial here.

“International counter-terrorism law requires the US to prosecute Hambali or extradite him to a country, like Australia, that has jurisdiction,” he says.

“Indefinite detention without charge is a denial of justice to his victims and their families, and a lost opportunity to punish and stigmatise terrorist offenders as criminals.

“Australia is well positioned to prosecute because of its proximity to the crime, the many Australian victims, and its close cooperative relationship with Indonesian law enforcement. Australia should show leadership in bringing terrorists to justice.”

Hambali’s long incarceration without charge or trial does raise other questions about human rights. Picture: Mike Brown/EPA

Counter-terror experts Greg Barton and Dr Clarke Jones said there were arguments for bringing Hambali to Australia for trial, but warned we lacked the facilities and management systems for a prisoner who is regarded as a “legend” in jihadist circles.

“If there’s a chance to bring Hambali to proper justice — and locking him in Guantánamo Bay is not proper justice — it would bring a lot of closure to Australians,” said Dr Jones.

“However, if we do that and bring him back, are we creating a rod for our backs?” He is especially concerned that young radicals not mix with the likes of masterful indoctrinators such as Hambali.

Professor Barton said there were “moral, legal and practical aspects” to ensuring Hambali faced trial but also worried about his influence in prison.

“There’s merit in the case that Australian lives were lost and he be prosecuted here but we need to think beyond that as to how you’d handle him.”

We may never need to worry about handling Hambali, but with more foreign fighters expected to return, and the terror threat now steady at “Probable”, the experts warn we will need to confront how we hold people of his

Tuesday, June 6, 2017



Ancient Bedouin warfare was reborn in the Gulf yesterday as the Saudi’s long held hatred for the tiny State of Sunni Qatar bubbled over amid claims of hacking and executions of each other’s citizens. It’s not just another spat this time as the Saudis via OPEC have the major say in total oil production, therefore pricing. And Qatar owns and exports gas from the world’s largest deposits.

There is little doubt that President Trump’s visit and his brash comments lit an old fuse between all those States who want a piece of Syria and Iraq, if not the entire Levant, once the dust settles.

Qatar is largely Sunni and supports the overthrown Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, Al Queda and ISIS terrorists. Qatar also boasts media influence in the area via its Al Jazeera network where two separate channels are each dedicated to English and Arabian versions.

The headquarters of Al Jazeera Arab Language channel in Doha is an extravagant shrine to slain Egyptian, Osama bin Laden, with huge photographs including him on a horse with an assault rifle backed by an Arabian sunset. The entire studio leaves little doubt as to Qatar’s affiliations. 

But Al Jazeera English channel shows nothing of its terrorist alliances. Peter Greste did not understand that his English reporting, when it suited Qatar, was shown on the Arab channel to the Egyptians who promptly jailed him for three years. Peter never realised he was dealing with the devil who was using him for desperate influence in the Gulf.

Qatar's number one enemy is Egypt and it was Greste of Al Jazeera who got the blame for supporting the Brotherhood.

But Qatar is about to host the corrupt FIFA’s World Cup in the middle of a Gulf summer and it has other Gulf States nervous over the tiny country’s increasing influence in the region. 

It also has closer than acceptable (for the Saudis that is) relations with Trump’s new foe, the Shia State of Iran, and Iran hates all the same things as does Qatar. And it supports the same terrorist groups as Qatar, including Al Queda and ISIS who are already seeking a new alliance of destruction in the wake of an impending Syrian/Iraq vacuum.


So Trump’s determination to dump the EPA to assist with energy self-sufficiency may be a good move as oil is central to Gulf tribal warfare. But the terms of engagement of warfare have changed since the tented Bedouins' squabbles, now all States have access to modern weapons, no longer do they charge each other on moulting camels.

The only real damage is likely to be a sharp rise in the world's oil price, but even that will not be as catastrophic as it once was.


The West has continued to coddle the Saudi Family and the Saudis have recently taken an emboldened leadership of the Gulf’s task force to help wipe out ISIS. But that is already starting to come undone at the seams. 

The West seems incapable of realising that to kill off anything in the Middle East leaves a vacuum that will incite even greater problems.

Obama supported the 10 per cent of Shia in Iraq and in most States, this led to vicious tribal vengeance against the Sunnis and the Sunnis responded with even more violent paybacks. Trump has stated his determination to castrate Shia Iran's tilt at nuclear capability and that has altered the balance once again. And no-one knows where this one will finish.


Russia’s Putin apparently has greater foresight than the Americans who are fighting for the demise of Assad, because the vacuum that the popularly-elected Assad will leave is a short fuse on a Middle East time bomb that could involve Israel and suck the US and even Russia into another endless war where no-one can be sure of who they should be fighting.

Do you seriously believe NATO members, including the US, come even close to understanding corrupt Middle-East geopolitics?

It’s time to get out of that decadent Islamic hotbed of tribal hatred... we have enough trouble with it over here.


Friday, June 2, 2017

Indo-German economic relationship can have real global clout

Europe’s increasing strain with the US represents a golden opportunity for India, one the latter can use to offer an alternative a Chinese-led new world order

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Berlin on Monday could not have come at a more opportune moment, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel having clearly outlined her intention to cultivate new allies in the east in the wake of America signaling its intent to withdraw from the world.

Europe’s increasing strain with the US represents a golden opportunity for India, which boasts a rapidly growing economy and a robust democratic political system.

According to Dr. Siegfried O. Wolf, a senior researcher at Heidelberg University’s South Asia Institute and a former consultant with the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Modi’s Germany trip can “usher a new frontier in European Union-Asia relations based on democratic values, which will help stabilize the Eurasian region.”

Wolf believes China’s efforts to create a new world order conducive to its own strategic interests create substantial common ground for New Delhi and Berlin to build a solid framework for economic and political cooperation. Indian Premier Narendra Modi has echoed that sentiment, endorsing an EU-centric world vision in which Indo-German ties truly count.

“At a time when protectionist tendencies are rising globally, the affirmation by our two leaders of openness, greater trade, investments and exchange of technology for mutual growth provides businesses on both sides with much needed confidence,” says Dr. Alwyn Didar Singh, Secretary General of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).

Indo-German co-operation is enshrined in a framework adopted in May 2000: the Agenda for German-Indian Partnership in the 21st Century. However there is a feeling that more can be done strengthen bilateral relations on a strategic level.

After all, Germany is a key ally of India, and one that facilitated the lifting of global sanctions imposed on New Delhi after its 1998 atomic tests. It is also the country’s largest trading partner in the European Union and one of its leading sources of foreign direct investment, contributing US$2 billion in the last two years alone. Trade between the countries currently stands at US$18.73 billion.

“At a time when protectionist tendencies are rising globally, the affirmation by our two leaders of openness, greater trade, investments and exchange of technology for mutual growth provides businesses on both sides with much needed confidence”

The two currently have no formal bilateral trade agreement, however. An India-Germany Bilateral Investment Treaty lapsed in March this year and negotiations over a fresh trade agreement with the Europe Union have been creeping along at snail’s pace since 2007.

Meanwhile, the Germans have complained about obstacles to their entrepreneurial efforts, although Singh contends that some of those difficulties have been remedied with the implementation of the 2015 “fast track agreement” to facilitate German companies investing in India.

Modi’s Berlin trip is likely to enhance Germany’s contribution in making India a global design and manufacturing hub, and India’s FICCI is well positioned to play the role of facilitator. Crucially, a concentrated “Make in India” thrust and a business-friendly policy realignment from New Delhi are making India a key destination for global capital seeking profitable returns. Singh believes efforts to attract German SMEs will help to mitigate India’s unemployment problem significantly.

Former Indian Ambassador to Germany Kishan S Rana asserts: “Germany is not only the locomotive of the European Union but also a bastion of technology and innovation – the reason why it remains a vital partner for Indian growth ambitions.” Given India’s well-chronicled weaknesses in delivering on promises, Rana advocates a time-bound program of concrete aims be established.

Seema Sengupta is a Calcutta based journalist and columnist