Report: Two Malaysian terror suspects’ Guantanamo ordeal may end with expected guilty plea over Indonesia bombings’ roles

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 13 — Two Malaysians suspected of being involved in terrorism activities may find their ordeal of being kept in solitary confinement without trial for years in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba ending, as they are expected to plead guilty in their trial next week over their role in the deadly bombings in Bali and Jakarta in Indonesia in 2002 and 2003, a report has said.

The terrorism trial dates for the two Malaysian men, Mohammed Nazir Lep and Mohammed Farik Amin, have been confirmed by the US military court at Guantanamo Bay to be from January 15 to February 2, news portal Free MalaysiaToday (FMT) said.

FMT quoted Nazir’s lawyer Brian Bouffard as saying: “Mr Nazir will be pleading guilty to and accepting responsibility for his role in these offences. I expect his plea and sentencing will both occur on schedule this month.”

FMT said Bouffard did not say what sentences could be possibly given and left it to the court to decide.

FMT cited local counter-terrorism expert Ahmad El-Muhammady Muhammad Uthman El-Muhammady, as saying that bringing the two Malaysians — who have been detained for 20 years since their 2003 arrest — to a court of law is vital to bring “closure” to their cases.

Ahmad El-Muhammady reportedly said it was possible that the duo would be sent back to Malaysia after they are sentenced in their trial, and also said that the Malaysian government is seeking to have the US repatriate the two men to have them serve their sentences and be rehabilitated in Malaysia.

He reportedly said there were proposals for both men to be detained for two more years under the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015 — which allows detention without trial — if they are sent back to Malaysia.

“Both of them have not only been under solitary confinement since their arrest in 2003, they have also been subjected to so much torture, which the US authorities have admitted.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea to release them back into society without proper assessments. They first need to undergo psychological, ideological and security assessments. They also need extensive counselling to help them assimilate into a society they won’t be able to recognise,” said the associate fellow at the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism (ICCT) at The Hague, Netherlands.

The two Malaysians and Indonesian terror suspect Encep Nurjaman, who was known as Hambali, were arrested in Thailand in 2003.

They were put under solitary confinement in secret black sites operated by the CIA and subjected to “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques” before being moved to Guantanamo Bay in 2006. This means that they have been detained in a military prison in the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp for the past 17 years.

Hambali was a senior leader of South-east Asian terror group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) that had ties to al-Qaeda.

The trio face charges for bombings in Bali in October 2022 which killed 202 people and a bombing at the JW Marriott hotel in Jakarta in August 2003 that killed 11 and injured 81 people.

Bouffard reportedly told FMT that the two Malaysians’ cases will be heard separately from Hambali’s case.

On October 1, 2023, Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said Malaysia has started negotiations with the US to repatriate the two Malaysian men, but that there has yet to be any decision on the matter.

 

 

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