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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
07MANAMA932 2007-10-10 14:10:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Manama
Cable title:  

TERRORIST CELL SUSPECTS FORMALLY CHARGED; JUSTICE

Tags:   PTER PGOV KISL ASEC KPAO BA 
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PP RUEHDE RUEHDIR
DE RUEHMK #0932/01 2831410
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 101410Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANAMA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7293
INFO RUEHZM/GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHBVAKS/COMUSNAVCENT  PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANAMA 000932 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/10/2017
TAGS: PTER PGOV KISL ASEC KPAO BA
SUBJECT: TERRORIST CELL SUSPECTS FORMALLY CHARGED; JUSTICE
MINISTER CONFIDENT

REF: A. MANAMA 913


B. MANAMA 876

C. MANAMA 831

D. MANAMA 820

E. MANAMA 794

F. MANAMA 790

Classified By: Ambassador Adam Ereli for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).



1. (C) Summary: The Minister of Justice confirmed that the
prosecutor presented to a judge his case against five
extremist defendants October 1, and that their trial will
begin on October 23. While cautioning that the defendants
may challenge the constitutionality of the new
counter-terrorism law, the Minister was confident that the
law would withstand scrutiny and that the prosecutor would
win convictions. End summary.



2. (C) In a meeting with the Ambassador on October 8, the
Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs, Sheikh Khalid bin
Ali Al-Khalifa, confirmed press reports that the prosecutor
in the terrorist cell case has formally presented to a judge
his case against four Bahrainis and a Qatari. (Note: The
Qatari is presently in Qatar and will be tried in absentia.
It is unclear when or if the GOB will request his
extradition.) The trial is set to begin October 23 before a
three-judge panel, though Sheikh Khalid cautioned that it
could take as long as a year to complete, if the defendants
challenge the constitutionality of the new counter-terrorism
law.



3. (C) The Minister, himself a former prosecutor, said that
the prosecutor, Ghanim Al-Buanain, presented to the judge
October 1 cases against the five men against whom there is
evidence strong enough to support convictions. Three others
were released from custody after investigators determined
that their actions had not crossed the line into criminality
and after receiving religious counseling designed to counter
jihadist ideology. Sheikh Khalid said that the accused will
be tried under the new counter-terrorism law passed in 2006
on charges of membership in a terrorist organization,
undergoing terrorist training, facilitating the travel of
others abroad to receive terrorist training, and financing
terrorism. The Minister dismissed the activities of Hashim
Abdullah and his Al-Adala movement as political theatre and
predicted that there would be little public sympathy for the
defendants. (Ref B reports that an Al-Adala rally in support
of the defendants drew only 50-60 people.)



4. (C) Sheikh Khalid told Ambassador that it is important
that the public see that the government is dealing with the
case seriously. He said that the prosecutor is being very
careful because the case is a critical test for the new
counter-terrorism law. Sheikh Khalid explained that a
constitutional challenge could take place in two ways: the
trial court could question the constitutionality of a
particular point of law (unlikely in this case), or the
defendants could raise a constitutional challenge during the
trial. If the challenge originates with the defendants, they
may only plead their case before the Constitutional Court
after the trial court has agreed to allow the petition to go
forward; they would have a three month window in which to do
so. The trial court may deny such a petition outright, if it
deems the challenge to be without merit. Should a challenge
go before the Constitutional Court, the criminal trial would
be put on hold pending the outcome of the constitutional
question.



5. (C) Noting the possibility that the trial could be
lengthy, the Ambassador asked whether the defendants might be
released on bail during the trial. The Minister allowed that
it was possible that a judge could place them under house
arrest during constitutional appeal. Criminal trials are
normally open to the public, but Sheikh Khalid noted that it
was within the discretion of the three-judge panel to close
the proceedings.



6. (SBU): Subsequent to the meeting, the Minister's office
provided emboff with the names of the five accused: Ishaaq
Faheem Ishaaq, Mohammad Abdulkareem Al-Khan, Abdulrahman
Mohammad Jaffar, Ali Eid Muttar Jassim, and Khalifa
Al-Subayi. (Note: Al-Khan and Al-Subayi remain at-large.)
Up to now, the GOB has closely guarded the names of the
accused, preferring to wait until charges were formally filed
before providing them to us. The GOB has still not released
these in the media.



7. (C) Comment: The timing of the presentation of the cases
for trial, as well as the charges themselves, track with what

MANAMA 00000932 002 OF 002


we have heard from our GOB interlocutors over the past
month-and-a-half. The GOB appears to be confident that the
counter-terrorism law will stand up to constitutional
scrutiny and that the government's evidence, as yet
undisclosed publicly, will result in convictions.



8. (C) Comment continued: The Minister of Justice is a strong
and committed advocate for fighting terror. He was the
prosecutor in the Bahrain Six case, who saw these malefactors
released on a constitutional challenge, and he doesn't want
to see another set of bad guys go free. He subsequently
authored Bahrain's tough new counter-terrorism law, which for
the first time criminalized the activities for which the
present cell members are to be tried. Notwithstanding his
bullishness, there are scenarios in which the trial could end
in something less than a conviction and jail time. A
drawn-out process, which might include a lengthy
constitutional challenge, could give Sunni political elements
who are opposed to what they see as a witch-hunt against
their constituents (ref A) added opportunity to increase
pressure on the government to cut a deal. We have
consistently told the GOB that any sign of accommodation
would reflect negatively on Bahrain's reputation for
combating terror.


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