A top Indonesian terror suspect transferred to the US military base in Cuba in September after years of secret CIA detention has denied Al-Qaeda ties, the Defense Department has said.
Riduan Isamuddin, known as Hambali, is a self-declared former member of the Islamic extremist group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and is suspected of masterminding terror attacks in Indonesia.
JI has long been suspected of having ties to the Al-Qaeda network, which was behind the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.
Hambali allegedly headed JI until late 2002. He was arrested in Thailand in August 2003 and handed over to US authorities, who are currently detaining him at the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
According to a Pentagon transcript of an April 4 hearing released yesterday, Hambali denied any link to Al-Qaeda while he was a member of JI. "Mister Hambali, did you have any association with Al-Qaeda while you were a member of JI?" asked the judge of a military commission charged with determining his status as an 'enemy combatant'. Hambali was quoted as replying via an interpreter: "No."
According to the summary of evidence released by the Pentagon: "The detainee was the operations chief of the Jemaah Islamiyah and its main contact and point man for Al-Qaeda in Southeast Asia."
Hambali is one of the 14 suspects whose 'enemy combatant' status is being examined by military commissions at Guantanamo.