Mohd Farik Bin Amin

Mohd Farik Bin Amin, also known as Zubair, is a Malaysian member of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and operative of al-Qaeda. He is one of 17 high-value detainees at United States Naval Base Guantánamo Bay in Cuba. According to the U.S. Department of Defense, Bin Amin served as a lieutenant to JI operations chief Riduan Isamuddin, a.k.a. Hambali, and had pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.“The Guantánamo Docket: Zubair (Mohd Farik Bin Amin): JTF-GTMO Assessment,” New York Times, September 23, 2008, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/projects/guantanamo/detainees/10021-zubair-mohd-farik-bin-amin-/documents/11. Bin Amin allegedly aided the financing of terrorist attacks in Southeast Asia and trained to be a suicide operative in a foiled plot masterminded by al-Qaeda operative Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM).“Notification of Swearing of Charges in United States v. Encep Nurjaman,” U.S. Department of Defense, April 5, 2019, https://int.nyt.com/data/documenthelper/751-2019HambaliCharges/e58e1aaf3f8134ef2fa8/optimized/full.pdf.

Born in Kajang, Malaysia in 1975, Bin Amin grew up in a Muslim family that he claimed was not particularly religious. He graduated from the Bukit Bintang Boys School near Kuala Lumpur in 1991, and subsequently attended the Polytechnic Sultan Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah (POLIMAS) school in Ditra, Kedah Province. In 1994, he graduated with a certificate in electronic telecommunications and, after working for an electronics factory, returned to POLIMAS in 1997 to receive a diploma in the same field. After struggling to find stable work, he returned to live with his family in Kajang. During this time, he reportedly traveled to attend lectures at different mosques.“The Guantánamo Docket: Zubair (Mohd Farik Bin Amin): JTF-GTMO Assessment,” New York Times, September 23, 2008, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/projects/guantanamo/detainees/10021-zubair-mohd-farik-bin-amin-/documents/11.

Bin Amin claimed that violence against Muslims in Malaysia and Indonesia in the late 1990s inspired him to pursue Islamic militant training.“The Guantánamo Docket: Zubair (Mohd Farik Bin Amin): JTF-GTMO Assessment,” New York Times, September 23, 2008, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/projects/guantanamo/detainees/10021-zubair-mohd-farik-bin-amin-/documents/11. In early 2000, Bin Amin was invited by a friend Mohammed Nazir Bin Lep, a.k.a. Lillie, to a mosque in Kuala Lumpur where Hambali was giving a lecture.“The Guantánamo Docket: Lillie (Mohammed Nazir Bin Lep): JTF-GTMO Assessment,” New York Times, October 13, 2008, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/projects/guantanamo/detainees/10022-lillie-mohammed-nazir-bin-lep-/documents/11. Bin Amin and Bin Lep had met previously while working at an architecture firm in the Malaysian capital.Patrick Winn, “Osama bin Laden's Asian disciples,” The World, May 2, 2011, https://www.pri.org/stories/2011-05-02/osama-bin-ladens-asian-disciples. According to Bin Amin, he also met someone named Abu Hassan at a Kuala Lumpur mosque and sought his assistance in receiving militant training.“The Guantánamo Docket: Zubair (Mohd Farik Bin Amin): JTF-GTMO Assessment,” New York Times, September 23, 2008, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/projects/guantanamo/detainees/10021-zubair-mohd-farik-bin-amin-/documents/11.

In June 2000, Bin Amin and Bin Lep arrived in Pakistan and traveled through to Kandahar, Afghanistan, where they stayed at the Hajji Habbash Guesthouse. From July to September 2000, both men trained at al-Qaeda’s al-Farouq camp.“The Guantánamo Docket: Lillie (Mohammed Nazir Bin Lep): JTF-GTMO Assessment,” New York Times, October 13, 2008, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/projects/guantanamo/detainees/10022-lillie-mohammed-nazir-bin-lep-/documents/11. Between October 2000 and December 2000, Bin Amin worked treating wounded fighters at an al-Qaeda medical clinic near Kandahar. He returned to al-Farouq sometime in or around February 2001, to receive advanced training in tactical movements, ambushes, land navigation, and guerrilla warfare. He also allegedly trained and assisted in the construction of buildings at another camp.“Notification of Swearing of Charges in United States v. Encep Nurjaman,” U.S. Department of Defense, April 5, 2019, https://int.nyt.com/data/documenthelper/751-2019HambaliCharges/e58e1aaf3f8134ef2fa8/optimized/full.pdf#page=1.

Following the October 2001 bombing of al-Farouq camp, Hambali allegedly recruited Bin Amin to take part in a martyrdom operation, along with three others, including Bin Lep and two other jihadists known as Afifi and Masran.“The Guantánamo Docket: Zubair (Mohd Farik Bin Amin): JTF-GTMO Assessment,” New York Times, September 23, 2008, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/projects/guantanamo/detainees/10021-zubair-mohd-farik-bin-amin-/documents/11; “The Guantánamo Docket: Lillie (Mohammed Nazir Bin Lep): JTF-GTMO Assessment,” New York Times, October 13, 2008, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/projects/guantanamo/detainees/10022-lillie-mohammed-nazir-bin-lep-/documents/11. According to U.S. charges, Hambali had chosen Bin Amin and the others, all Malaysian nationals who pledged allegiance to Osama bin Laden, to travel to the United States and launch a post-9/11 suicide bombing attack, likely in California.Carol Rosenberg, “U.S. charges Hambali at Guantánamo with Bali, Jakarta terrorist bombings,” Miami Herald, June 23, 2017, https://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/guantanamo/article157887649.html; Carol Rosenberg, “Judge Postpones Guantánamo Court Appearances, Citing Pandemic,” New York Times, February 2, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/02/us/politics/guantanamo-coronavirus-hambali.html. The so-called “West Coast Airliner Plot” was devised by al-Qaeda operative KSM as a “second wave” to follow the 9/11 attacks. Hambali and the other planners believed that the Malaysian jihadists would have an easier time entering the United States than Arabs in the wake of 9/11.Patrick Winn, “Osama bin Laden's Asian disciples,” The World, May 2, 2011, https://www.pri.org/stories/2011-05-02/osama-bin-ladens-asian-disciples.

On January 20, 2002, Bin Amin, Bin Lep, and Afifi arrived in Hat Yai, Thailand, with Masran staying behind in Pakistan.“The Guantánamo Docket: Lillie (Mohammed Nazir Bin Lep): JTF-GTMO Assessment,” New York Times, October 13, 2008, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/projects/guantanamo/detainees/10022-lillie-mohammed-nazir-bin-lep-/documents/11. According to Bin Lep’s interrogation documents, the Malaysian cell was unable to continue with the “West Coast Airliner Plot” when Masran was prevented from traveling to Thailand and Afifi subsequently returned to Malaysia. Bin Amin and Bin Lep remained in Thailand, reportedly traveling from Hat Yai to Bangkok to stay with Hambali and his wife.“The Guantánamo Docket: Lillie (Mohammed Nazir Bin Lep): JTF-GTMO Assessment,” New York Times, October 13, 2008, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/projects/guantanamo/detainees/10022-lillie-mohammed-nazir-bin-lep-/documents/11. Later, Bin Amin and Bin Lep rented an apartment together in Bangkok that served as a base of operations.“Notification of Swearing of Charges in United States v. Encep Nurjaman,” U.S. Department of Defense, April 5, 2019, https://int.nyt.com/data/documenthelper/751-2019HambaliCharges/e58e1aaf3f8134ef2fa8/optimized/full.pdf. During his time in Thailand, Bin Amin cased western targets in the country as well as in Cambodia for future terrorist attacks, including the British Embassy in Phnom Penh. In 2002, Hambali also directed Bin Amin to case Israeli El Al flights from Don Muang airport in Bangkok and to purchase surface-to-air missiles. According to Bin Amin, he attempted to purchase a surface-to-air missile from a contact in Cambodia. However, the process proved to be too difficult and Bin Amin abandoned the purchase. He also cased the Israeli Embassy in Bangkok as a potential target.“The Guantánamo Docket: Zubair (Mohd Farik Bin Amin): JTF-GTMO Assessment,” New York Times, September 23, 2008, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/projects/guantanamo/detainees/10021-zubair-mohd-farik-bin-amin-/documents/11.

The U.S. Defense Department alleges that while based in Bangkok, Bin Amin aided Hambali in transferring money for operations, as well as obtained and stored items such as fraudulent identification documents, weapons, and bomb-making instructions. On at least three occasions between December 2002 and the spring of 2003, Bin Amin allegedly met with al-Qaeda financiers and received a total of at least $99,900, which he stored in the apartment he rented with Bin Lep.“Notification of Swearing of Charges in United States v. Encep Nurjaman,” U.S. Department of Defense, April 5, 2019, https://int.nyt.com/data/documenthelper/751-2019HambaliCharges/e58e1aaf3f8134ef2fa8/optimized/full.pdf. According to interrogation documents, Bin Amin personally couriered $50,000 of the money to Hambali, a portion of which was transferred to Indonesia to finance safe houses and procure materials for an impending JI attack. U.S. government documents claim Hambali told Bin Amin and Bin Lep that the money being transferred to Indonesia was to be used in an upcoming operation.“The Guantánamo Docket: Zubair (Mohd Farik Bin Amin): Combatant Status Review Tribunals Summaries,” New York Times, March 8, 2007, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/projects/guantanamo/detainees/10021-zubair-mohd-farik-bin-amin-/documents/5; “Notification of Swearing of Charges in United States v. Encep Nurjaman,” U.S. Department of Defense, April 5, 2019, https://int.nyt.com/data/documenthelper/751-2019HambaliCharges/e58e1aaf3f8134ef2fa8/optimized/full.pdf. On August 5, 2003, JI operatives attacked the JW Marriott Hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia, killing 12 people and wounding 150 others.“Bali bombing: Guantánamo inmate Hambali charged over 2002 attack,” Guardian, June 23, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jun/24/bali-bombing-guantanamo-inmate-hambali-charged-over-2002-attack.

In August 2003, a joint U.S.-Thai operation captured Bin Amin outside of a bookstore in Thailand. Hambali and Bin Lep were also detained around the same time. In September 2006, the three suspects were transferred to Guantánamo after three years in C.I.A. custody.Carol Rosenberg, “U.S. charges Hambali at Guantánamo with Bali, Jakarta terrorist bombings,” Miami Herald, June 23, 2017, https://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/guantanamo/article157887649.html; “The Guantánamo Docket: Zubair (Mohd Farik Bin Amin): JTF-GTMO Assessment,” New York Times, September 23, 2008, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/projects/guantanamo/detainees/10021-zubair-mohd-farik-bin-amin-/documents/11. While in U.S. custody, Bin Amin confessed that he had knowledge of explosives and bomb-making and had considered the use of chemicals for poison.“The Guantánamo Docket: Zubair (Mohd Farik Bin Amin): Combatant Status Review Tribunals Summaries,” New York Times, March 8, 2007, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/projects/guantanamo/detainees/10021-zubair-mohd-farik-bin-amin-/documents/5.

In November 2016, the Obama administration entered into talks with the Malaysian government regarding Malaysian detainees at Guantánamo. Both sides discussed potentially repatriating Bin Amin if he pleaded guilty to terrorism offenses, agreed to testify against Bin Lep and Hambali, and spent four more years in U.S. custody. However, the deal did not proceed.“US and Malaysia discussing deal to repatriate Malaysian detainee from Guantanamo,” Straits Times, November 13, 2016, https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/us-and-malaysia-discussing-deal-to-repatriate-malaysian-detainee-from-guantanamo.

The case of United States v. Encep Nurjaman (Hambali), Mohammed Nazir Bin Lep, and Mohammed Farik Bin Amin was finally approved for trial on January 21, 2021, when the U.S. Defense Department announced that the Convening Authority, Office of Military Commissions, referred charges to a military commission.“DOD Announces Charges Referred Against Guantanamo Detainees Encep Nurjaman, Mohammed Nazir Bin Lep, and Mohammed Farik Bin Amin,” U.S. Department of Defense, January 21, 2021, https://www.defense.gov/Newsroom/Advisories/Advisory/Article/2479146/dod-announces-charges-referred-against-guantanamo-detainees-encep-nurjaman-moha/. It was the first new case at Guantánamo Bay since 2014. Prosecutors are not permitted to seek the death penalty and it is possible for the suspects to negotiate toward a guilty plea and serve their sentences elsewhere.Carol Rosenberg, “Pentagon Official Approves Guantánamo Trial of 3 Men for Indonesia Bombings,” New York Times, January 21, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/21/us/politics/guantanamo-trial-indonesia-bombings.html.

On February 1, 2021, a military judge postponed the arraignment of Bin Amin and two co-defendants at Guantánamo. Bin Amin was scheduled to make his first court appearance after 17 years in detention on February 22, 2021. However, the judge said the risk to the health and safety of trial participants due to the COVID-19 pandemic was too high to proceed.“Nurjaman Riduan Isamuddin,” United Nations Security Council, March 28, 2011, https://www.un.org/securitycouncil/sanctions/1267/aq_sanctions_list/summaries/individual/nurjaman-riduan-isamuddin; Carol Rosenberg, “Judge Postpones Guantánamo Court Appearances, Citing Pandemic,” New York Times, February 2, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/02/us/politics/guantanamo-coronavirus-hambali.html. The three men are scheduled to be arraigned on August 30, 2021.“Military Commissions Media Invitation Announced for United States v. Encep Nurjaman; Mohammed Nazir Bin Lep; Mohammed Farik Bin Amin, Arraignment,” U.S. Department of Defense, June 28, 2021, https://www.defense.gov/Newsroom/Advisories/Advisory/Article/2673035/military-commissions-media-invitation-announced-for-united-states-v-encep-nurja/source/GovDelivery/; “Amended Arraignment Order,” U.S. Department of Defense Office of Military Commissions, April 16, 2021, https://www.mc.mil/Portals/0/pdfs/Nurjaman/Nurjaman%20(AE0002.008(TJ)(CorrectedCopy)).pdf.

Also Known As

Extremist entity
Al-Qaeda
Type(s) of Organization:
Non-state actor, religious, terrorist, transnational, violent
Ideologies and Affiliations:
Jihadist, pan-Islamist, Qutbist, Salafist, Sunni, takfiri
Position(s):
Operative

Al-Qaeda’s 9/11 attacks was the deadliest ever on American soil, killing nearly 3,000 people. Since the fall of the Taliban, al-Qaeda has established operations worldwide, including in Syria, the Gulf, North Africa, West Africa, East Africa, and the Indian subcontinent.

Extremist entity
Jemaah Islamiyah (JI)
Type(s) of Organization:
Insurgent, non-state actor, religious, terrorist, transnational, violent
Ideologies and Affiliations:
Islamist, jihadist, Qutbist, Salafist, Sunni, takfiri
Position(s):
Senior member

Al-Qaeda’s 9/11 attacks was the deadliest ever on American soil, killing nearly 3,000 people. Since the fall of the Taliban, al-Qaeda has established operations worldwide, including in Syria, the Gulf, North Africa, West Africa, East Africa, and the Indian subcontinent.

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