Archive for Saturday, August 16, 2003

U.S. reportedly questioning alleged al-Qaida leader

August 16, 2003


— Al-Qaida's alleged Asian mastermind is being interrogated at a secret location by U.S. investigators, Thai officials said Friday.

Hambali, an Indonesian whose real name is Riduan Isamuddin, had been in Thailand more than a month when he was arrested after officials received a tip, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said.

"We had been following Hambali for several days and it happened that we just arrested him," Thaksin told reporters.

"Right now we are in the process of interrogating him with the allied countries. I cannot say where," Thaksin said. He refused to elaborate or say whether the 39-year-old Hambali was still in Thailand.

Military sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Hambali was handed over Wednesday to U.S. authorities and flown out of the country.

Several Southeast Asian governments said they also wanted to question the man suspected of being the operational head of Jemaah Islamiyah, a terrorist network affiliated with al-Qaida and blamed for a string of bombings in the region.

Hambali was arrested Monday at an apartment building on the outskirts of Ayutthaya, a major tourist attraction with its dozens of ancient Buddhist temples.

Thaksin said the arrest came after a tip from residents.

"We arrested the suspect after people notified police about the appearance of the foreigner. And after we checked his passport, we found that he's the one that's wanted by several countries," Thaksin said, according to Thailand's state radio network.

Plainclothes officers smashed down the door of Hambali's one-room apartment and took him away after a violent struggle, residents said.

Hambali is suspected in a number of attacks blamed on Jemaah Islamiyah, including the Aug. 5 bombing of the Marriott Hotel in Jakarta.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.