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Indonesia Requests Immediate Access to Terror Suspect


Indonesia's foreign minister has repeated the government's request for immediate access to the terror suspect Hambali, who is now in U.S. custody. The foreign minister also says Indonesia wants to see the extradition of Mr. Hambali, considered a key al-Qaida operative in Southeast Asia.

Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda says Indonesia understands that several countries want to try terror suspect Riduan Isamuddin, who goes by the name Hambali. But he says his government still expects immediate information from any interrogation of Mr. Hambali - and his eventual extradition to Indonesia.

"Even though Indonesia has no extradition treaty … bi-lateral and regional cooperations on combating terrorism would allow us to have immediate access to Hambali, [and] would allow us to eventually even to have the possibility of Hambali being handed over to Indonesia," says Mr. Wirajuda.

Mr. Hambali, an Indonesian, was arrested last week in Thailand. U.S. authorities say he is in their custody, but they have not revealed where.

The United States and other governments accuse Mr. Hambali of being a financial conduit for the al-Qaida network in Southeast Asia. They also say he is the leader of the regional terror group, Jemaah Islamiyah, or JI, which seeks to build an Islamic state in Southeast Asia.

Mr. Hambali has been wanted for years in connection with bombings in Indonesia and the Philippines that are thought to be JI plots. The United States says in January 2001 he arranged a meeting in Malaysia with two of the hijackers who took part in the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington.

His arrest came a week after the bombing of the J.W. Marriott hotel in the Indonesian capital Jakarta. Twelve people have died so far in the blast. It was the worst terrorist attack in Indonesia since 202 people died in the bombing of two nightclubs in Bali last October, which police say was the work of JI.

Although JI is suspected in the hotel attack, police say they cannot yet confirm that it had a role. Nine suspects have been arrested in the hotel bombing, but no details have been released about them.

Authorities in Malaysia say they may hold Mr. Hambali's wife in detention because she could have useful information about terror plots. Noralwizah Lee Abdullah, a Malaysian citizen, was handed over to Kuala Lumpur after her husband's arrest.

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