Washington International Law Journal


In May 2001, three Americans were kidnapped and held hostage by members of Abu Sayyaf, a guerilla group attempting to establish an Islamic state in the southern Philippines. Two of those Americans were later killed. In October 2002, a nightclub on the Indonesian resort island of Bali was destroyed in an explosion, killing over 200 people, 88 of whom were Australians. Members of the Islamic group Jemaah Islamiyah are suspected of masterminding the attack. The Abu Sayyaf suspects have yet to be caught, but Indonesia is preparing to prosecute some of the Bali bombing suspects beginning in May 2003. Using these two attacks as illustrations, this Comment explores the various options available for prosecution of individuals suspected of committing terrorist attacks: extradition, home prosecution, abduction or seizure, United Nations sanctions, the International Court of Justice, and the International Criminal Court. The viability of each option with respect to international terrorism situations depends on certain factors weighing in favor and against the use of each option. These factors create a multi-step balancing test to determine the best method of prosecution for suspects in future, similar attacks. The balancing test is then applied to the Abu Sayyaf and Bali situations. This Comment concludes that in situations similar to the Abu Sayyaf attacks, home prosecution is best for several reasons: the relationship between the countries involved, the relative strength of the Philippine judiciary, and the relatively low global interest in the crime. However, the best forum for prosecution of suspects involved in attacks similar to the Bali bombing is the International Criminal Court. This conclusion is based on the high level of international interest, the apparent instability of the Indonesian justice system, and the fact that the attacks are systematically directed towards a specific group of people.

First Page