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8/18/03 - HAMBALI CAPTURED - 2003-08-19

President George W. Bush has some good news in the war against global terrorism:

“In the last few days, we captured a major terrorist named Hambali. He's a known killer who is a close associate of September 11th mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Hambali was one of the world's most lethal terrorists, who is suspected of planning major terrorist operations including that which occurred in Bali, Indonesia, and other recent attacks. He is no longer a threat to those who love freedom.”

Riduan Isamuddin, known as Hambali, was captured by Thai law enforcement personnel and handed over to U.S. custody. He is believed to be the top representative in Southeast Asia of the al-Qaida terrorist network. He was the operations chief of Jemaah Islamiyah, a terrorist group committed to establishing an extremist Muslim state covering the territory of Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, southern Thailand, and the southern Philippines.

Under Hambali, Jemaah Islamiyah terrorists killed some two-hundred people from more than a dozen countries in the October 2002 bombings in Bali, Indonesia. Jemaah Islamiyah bombed Christian churches in Indonesia in December 2000, killing nineteen and wounding fifty others. The group also plotted foiled terrorist attacks in Malaysia and Singapore.

Now, thanks to international cooperation, Jemaah Islamiyah has been badly damaged. Its spiritual leader, Abu Bakar Bashir, is on trial in Indonesia. Malaysia has detained more than eighty suspected Jemaah Islamiyah terrorists. The capture of Hambali, said Australia's Prime Minister John Howard, is a "huge breakthrough."

President Bush said that al-Qaida terrorists and their affiliates can expect more of the same:

“Our nation is waging a broad and unrelenting campaign against the global terror network. And we're winning. Wherever al-Qaida terrorists try to hide -- from the caves and mountains of Central Asia to the islands of the Philippines, to the cities in Pakistan -- we are finding them and we are bringing them to justice.”

Since the September 11th terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, nearly two-thirds of senior al-Qaida leaders and operations chiefs have been killed or captured. The U.S. and its friends and allies will not rest until their fugitive associates are brought to justice.