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Last Updated: Saturday, 16 August, 2003, 04:33 GMT 05:33 UK
Bali blast families welcome arrest
Hambali is alleged to have links to al-Qaeda
Families of the British victims of the Bali bombing have welcomed the arrest of a terror suspect alleged to be behind the Bali blast and other attacks.

Hambali, an Indonesian whose real name is Riduan Isamuddin, was captured in a joint US and Thai operation in South East Asia earlier this week.

He is believed to be the key player in the al-Qaeda-linked south-east Asian terror group, Jemaah Islamiya.

Victims and relatives of those killed in the Bali blast said his arrest was significant.

'Monitoring developments'

Intelligence officials claim Hambali worked with Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan and he was described by President George W Bush as "one of the world's most lethal terrorists".

Susanna Miller, spokeswoman of the Bali Bombings Victims Group, said: "We see this as a very significant arrest and we will be monitoring the developments carefully."

If Hambali is proven to be responsible, we hope that his arrest will make the world a safer place
Susanna Miller

Ms Miller lost her brother Dan in the bombing at a nightclub on the Indonesian holiday island on 12 October last year.

Some 202 people, including 26 Britons, were killed.

"If Hambali is proven to be responsible, we hope that his arrest will make the world a safer place," she added.

Hambali is believed to be the operations chief for Jemaah Islamiah (JI) - a group allegedly linked to al-Qaeda and blamed for last year's Bali bombing and other attacks.

'First step'

Tobias Ellwood, whose brother Jonathan was killed in the bomb blast, said the arrest of Hambali had provoked an "emotional response".

And he appealed for him to be tried publicly rather than being "tucked away" in the US detention camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

"The news of the arrest of Hambali, if he is proved to be the leader of Jemaah Islamiah, will be the first real step in fighting terrorism in south east Asia," said Mr Ellwood, of Bournemouth.

Hambali was one of the world's most lethal terrorists
President George W Bush

"Until the masterminds running al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiah are captured, then bombs such as in Bali and Jakarta will continue to threaten stability and peace in south-east Asia.

"If proper measures are not taken to follow up this success, namely the training and co-ordination of Asian intelligence and security forces, then these countries will never be able to stand on their own feet."

He added: "I do not want to see this man tucked away in Camp X-Ray [Guantanamo Bay] but placed on trial in an international court."

Hambali, aged about 40, is being held at an undisclosed location and Indonesia is expected to ask for him to stand trial in Bali.

Scene after the Bali bombing
The devastation after a bomb went off outside a Bali nightclub

After news of his arrest, US President George W Bush said: "Hambali was one of the world's most lethal terrorists... he is no longer a problem to those of us who love freedom."

Jemaah Islamiya is blamed for a string of bombings across the region, including Bali, and the attack on the Marriott Hotel in Jakarta on 5 August, in which 12 people died.

Regional intelligence services believe that Hambali has a seat on al-Qaeda's military committee - the only representative from south-east Asia.

He is thought to have been involved in some of the planning meetings for the 11 September attacks on the US, and to have been the brains and financial conduit behind the Bali attacks.

The BBC's Frank Gardner
"One of al-Qaeda's most wanted suspects"


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