The US State Department last year approvingly cited actions taken by Cambodian authorities against a Kuwaiti NGO accused of sponsoring al-Qaida and Jemaah Islamiyah, according to a document released Sunday.
In a classified December 2009 cable released by WikiLeaks, State Department headquarters told US officials in Kuwait to urge the Kuwaiti government to take stronger measures against the Revival of Islamic Heritage Society, which the US has designated a sponsor of the terrorist organizations al-Qaida and Jemaah Islamiyah.
US diplomats were instructed to point out that Cambodia was one of six countries to have taken some form of action against RIHS.
“The [US government] is not alone in its concern; six other governments (Albania, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cambodia, and Russia) have taken enforcement actions against RIHS branches in their country,” said the cable signed in the name of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Not all cables bearing Ms Clinton’s name are authored by her personally.
According to the US Treasury Department, an employee of RIHS in Cambodia arranged secretive travel and lodging in 2002 for Jemaah Islamiyah’s fugitive leader Riduan Isamuddin, better known as Hambali, who is currently being held at the US military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Despite defense claims that evidence was lacking, Phnom Penh Municipal Court in 2004 sentenced Sman Esma El, a Cambodian Muslim, to life in prison for aiding Hambali as part of a terrorist conspiracy.
RIHS representatives in Cambodia were unavailable yesterday. However Kao Soupha, Sman Esma El’s defense lawyer, said his client’s conviction had been unjust.
“The arrest was baseless. It was just a frame-up to satisfy the United States,” he said.
Ahmad Yahya, secretary of state at the Social Affairs Ministry and a prominent member of the Cambodian Muslim community, said yesterday that an RIHS orphanage west of Phnom Penh had no links to militancy.
“Nothing related to militants or extremism,” he said. “Nothing.”