Riduan Isamuddin, also known as Hambali, a senior figure in Al-Qaeda, the Bali bombing mastermind and boss of Fathur Roman Al-Ghozi, is in United States custody today. He was said to have been captured in Thailand earlier this week. Hambali was born in Indonesia, became attracted to radical Islam, and hooked up with Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan. (Hat tip: Thugburg) The Muslim cleric had received a large, but unspecified amount of money in Pakistan earlier this year to mount a major terrorist attack. He was an operator, said to be closely associated with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the overall operations chief of Al-Qaeda.
The San Diego Channel reports that Hambali was captured by the Central Intelligence Agency. If true, the snatch represents one of the first public attributions of success to the Agency's secretive paramilitary wing, sometimes referred to in open literature as the Worldwide Attack Matrix. It also stands in stark contrast with the more cautious approach that Australia has taken in response to the murder and maiming of more than a hundred of its citizens at Bali. Australia has chosen to treat the Bali bombing like a very large, but still ordinary, criminal act. It has invested thousands of man-hours of the Australian Federal Police to investigate and convict Amrozi, the man who planted the bomb but who is at best, a cog in the Jemaah Islamiyah machine. In the terrible calculus of war, the exchange of a hundred Australians for a single terrorist minion is a poor bargain. In contrast, the United States chose to regard the September 11 attacks as an act of war. In so doing, America has simply mirrored the intent of the deadly jihad declared against it. Under American accounting, the exchange of one terrorist for a hundred victims is not acceptable.
In this respect, the interrogation of Hambali at an unspecified location, but presumably known to the Central Intelligence Agency, must be aimed at identifying his paymasters. Who paid a large sum of money to stage a mass killing to advance the glories of radical Islam? The net is closing. Saudi Arabia delenda est.
Update: Al Qaeda in Pakistan Gunbattle
This from the Australian:
PAKISTANI security forces were locked in a fierce gunbattle with a group of suspected al-Qaeda militants holed up in a house in the suburbs of the north-western city of Peshawar overnight, officials said. "The fighting erupted when Pakistani security (personnel) raided a house where al-Qaeda men were holed up," a senior security official said, requesting anonymity. "The fighting has been going on for the past four hours and the suspects are well armed," he said. "They are believed to be important al-Qaeda operatives and the intelligence information is that they are foreigners."
Could be that Hambali has been talking. This is the general area in which Osama Bin Laden is said to be hiding. Stay tuned.