WASHINGTON, Jan. 15 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. Justice Department is considering bringing a key Guantanamo detainee to Washington for trials, officials said Friday.
The detainee, named Hambali, alias Riduan Isamuddin, is believed to be a leader of Al-Qaeda link in Southeast Asia region of Jemaah Islamiyah.
A decision could be made in a matter of weeks, said officials on condition of anonymity.
Hambali was allegedly to have played a key role in a series of terrorist strikes in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines before he was arrested in 2003 in Thailand by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency agents and Thai police. He was then transferred to Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba.
While the Justice Department said a final decision has not yet been made on Hambali's case, Republican critics already expressed strong opposition after receiving classified briefings on this issue.
"Such a plan is unacceptable and I will vehemently oppose it," Frank R. Wolf, R-Va., wrote Friday in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder.
"If the American people knew these threats, they would never tolerate the transfer of these detainees to major urban population centers for trial," he added.
Wolf insisted that trials should be at Guantanamo or some remote, secure facilities far from any U.S. population centers.
Hambali's case stirs another round of debate after the Obama administration decided in November to bring the self-proclaimed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed from Guantanamo to New York for trials.
U.S. President Barack Obama has ordered the closure of the controversial Guantanamo prison by Jan. 22, 2010, but is expected to miss the deadline after the failed Christmas Day terror plot make things even more complicated.
Currently, there are 198 prisoners left at the Guantanamo prison, and about 90 of them are Yemenis, according to the Pentagon.