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Bali bombing mastermind loses appeal

Terror suspect Hambali, also known as Riduan Isamuddin, a senior al-Qaida operative suspected of masterminding the 2002 Bali bombings has lost his appeal for freedom. Picture: AP

THE suspected terrorist mastermind behind the 2002 Bali bombings and other attacks in South East Asia will remain in detention at Guantanamo Bay with US officials tonight rejecting his bid for freedom.

Indonesian-born Riduan Isamuddin, better known as Hambali, has been in detention since his arrest in 2003 after being accused of being al-Qaeda’s man in the region.

Under pressure to review all cases at the infamous terror prison camp Guantanamo and move prisoners to mainland US jails and courts, American authorities have revisited his appeal for freedom but today ruled he remained a “significant threat to the security of the United States”.

The Periodic Review Board reaffirmed that Hambali had a lengthy history as a jihadist and had played a “significant role in major terrorist attacks and plotting”.

Police and onlookers at the site of the horror 2002 bomb blasts in Kuta. Picture: AFP

Police and onlookers at the site of the horror 2002 bomb blasts in Kuta. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

The former leader of regional al-Qaeda splinter group Jemaah Islamiyah has been accused of helping co-ordinate the 2002 Bali bombings, which killed 202 people including 88 Australians.

He has also been accused of a string of other bomb attacks on churches in Indonesia and plots in Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia including allegedly a bomb plot to kill regional leaders including the then prime minister John Howard. He was also wanted in the Philippines.

Former Prime Minister John Howard, second from right, at the site of the October 12, 2002, bombing in Kuta. Picture: AFP

Former Prime Minister John Howard, second from right, at the site of the October 12, 2002, bombing in Kuta. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

His regional influence has been huge through much of the 1990s, particularly since he went to Afghanistan in the late 1980s to study under Osama bin Laden, and was in contact with the 9/11terror attackers in New York before becoming the operational chief of JI’s terror campaign.

Regional leaders particularly in Indonesia and the Philippines would no doubt sigh with relief at his continued incarceration ruling given his past influence and the current rise of jihadi militants particularly linked to Islamic State.

Australian Federal Police has been working closely with law enforcement and intelligence counterparts in the region to identify ISIS and other militants intent on carrying out attacks on the West in South East Asia notably Australia.

Hambali appeared before the Periodic Review Board at Guantanamo in August seeking his release after 10 years in detention without charge.

Guantanamo is to be shut before the end of the current presidential term but with elections next month and still 60 prisoners there, that desire from President Obama is unlikely to happen.