15 Years On, Suspects In the Bali Bombings Are Still Being Charged

Were the attacks 15 years ago targeting Australians?

"I have lots of bad dreams, I have lots of flashbacks and lots of anger, I sometimes don't like myself because of the way I look. It's a memory that I will never forget," recounts Peter Hughes to The Guardian, 2003.

Today marks fifteen years since a white van pulled up alongside the Sari Night club and Paddy’s Irish Bar in the popular tourist spot, Bali and exploded killing 202 people. The attack, which killed 88 Australians, was believed to be targeting Americans, however as recently as June this year the United States charged a key player in the bombings that suggest otherwise.

Riduan ”Hambali” Isomuddin was involved in the planning and execution of the Bali bombings as well as numerous other terrorist plots in Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Australia.

The court charge sheet read:

"Hambali, who was an important JI member, became close to [Osama] bin Laden and Al Qaeda associates."

It was found that Hambali’s violent tendencies evolved after his involvement with Bin Laden, after which he congregated JI members to target the U.S occupants in Singapore.

It was revealed that Hambali was in communication with Australian JI member, Jack Roche. They met in Kuala Lumpur in 2000 to discuss potential hit spots in Australia.

The US and Israeli consulates in Sydney and Canberra were among the potential targets discussed. The court heard Hambali was responsible for organising the attack on Christian churches in Indonesia on Christmas Eve, 2000. The bombing killed 19 people and injured 121.

The charge sheet that emerged this year is important to further investigations into jihadist movements in the early 2000s as well as current operations.

Hambali has remained in the infamous Guantanamo Bay since 2006. Australian National University terrorism expert Greg Fealy explained to the ABC earlier this year that Hambali was tortured extensively during the first few years of his imprisonment, which he believes is why the charges have only been laid recently.

“It has taken him some years to recover psychologically, if not physically, from the kind of very severe interrogation — torture if you will — that he endured," Dr. Fealy said to the ABC.

Image: A Camp 4 Detainee is restrained in Guanntanamo Bay, National Geographic

"One thing is very clear: he was subjected to very harsh interrogation and torture techniques, and there's a number of reports that suggest that this left him deeply traumatised at various stages."

"Now he has been charged it suggests that his mental state is now sufficient that he would be able to legitimately stand trial."

Hambali is one of the first Guantanamo prisoners to be charged under the Trump Administration.

Related Articles

Discuss this article


Never miss a Nat Geo moment

Your email address
We use our own and third-party cookies to improve our services, personalise your advertising and remember your preferences. If you continue browsing, or click on the accept button on this banner, we understand that you accept the use of cookies on our website. For more information visit our Cookies Policy AcceptClose cookie policy overlay