4 September 2003

ABC 7.30 Report | Interview on Abu Bakar Basjir trial:
KERRY O'BRIEN: If what we read in 'Time' magazine a year ago is correct, then Al Qaeda operative, Omar al-Faruq, would also have been able to give evidence linking Abu Bakar Bashir to JI's terrorist agenda.

He's been an American captive since May last year.

Are you aware of any attempt to make him available to Indonesia's prosecutors?

ZACHARY ABUZA: The Indonesian prosecutors made a written request to the US Embassy in Jakarta and were rebuffed.

I think this was a terrible mistake on the part of the Americans.

It really goes back to what is happening in Virginia in a federal court with the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui.

Moussaoui requested the video testimony of the right to question two very senior Al Qaeda operatives, Ramzi ben al-Shaiba and Khalid Sheik Mohammed.

The Government has tried to keep these people from Moussaoui, from appearing in court.

A Federal Court has ruled against the Government and ordered them to allow Moussaoui to question these Al Qaeda suspects and for that reason the Government's probably going to drop the charges against Moussaoui and move him to a military tribunal.

But very clearly the US Government did not want to set any precedent in which a senior Al Qaeda leader in their possession could be made to appear before a court anywhere in the world, let alone an American one or Indonesian one.

Jemaah Islamiyah is the main terrorist organisation, and al-Qa'ida's main ally, in Southeast Asia. Basjir should have been convicted of leading JI. He might have been but for the Bush administration's bizarre approach to the trial of those charged with crimes against humanity.

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