After announcing in his first week in office that he was closing down the prison at Guantanamo Bay, president Obama was faced with the reality of not having a plan for the inmates once he fulfilled his promise. He hinted that he might bring the terrorists to the United States and house them in US prisons or perhaps try them in American criminal courts alongside common criminals, thieves and liquor store stick-up artists. This brought such a public outcry that he shelved that idea and went looking for other places to put them. It was announced a few days ago that he had found new homes for several Chinese Uighurs in Bermuda, a self-governing British overseas territory. Obama said that these men were no longer considered a threat and the island of Bermuda had agreed to take 4 of them. That’s because US lawmakers cut off funds to resettle them in the United States, saying they could pose a risk.
The four men, who were captured on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border in 2001 claimed that they were all innocent itinerant workers who were wrongly turned in by bounty hunters. That is the official line that the Obama administration is taking. However, it was reported in The Weekly Standard, that the men weren’t quite what they claim. Thomas Joscelyn wrote on June 11:
“All four of them are members or associates of the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement (otherwise known as the Turkistan Islamic Party). The ETIM/TIP is a U.S. and UN designated terrorist organization affiliated with al Qaeda and has attacked civilians in China, as well as reportedly plotted against other targets elsewhere, including the U.S. embassy in Kyrgyzstan. According to the State Department, ETIM/TIP members have also fought alongside the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan. And last year the organization threatened to attack the Olympic Games in China.
The four Uighurs attempted to deny any relationship with the ETIM/TIP, the Taliban, and al Qaeda during their CSRTs. But their denials are not credible. In the context of their denials they made important admissions. For example, all four of the Uighurs admitted during their Combatant Status Review Tribunals (CSRTs) at Gitmo that they received training in the Taliban’s Afghanistan. And all four of them received this training at an ETIM/TIP terrorist training facility in Tora Bora, a key area once controlled by the Taliban and al Qaeda.
Three of the four Uighurs transferred to Bermuda also admitted that they had firsthand ties to senior terrorists such as Hassan Mahsum and Abdul Haq – the leaders of the ETIM/TIP. Haq was recently designated an al Qaeda terrorist by the Obama administration’s Treasury Department, which noted that he is also a member of al Qaeda’s elite Shura council. Mahsum was killed in a Taliban and al Qaeda stronghold in northern Pakistan in 2003.”
Oh well, if the Bermuda Prime Minister had known the truth, he might not have agreed to take the men while keeping the now furious British government in the dark about the negotiations.
Presently the men are staying in a first class holiday resort hotel and the American taxpayers are picking up the tab. I’m wondering if I could get such a deal. I’ve always wanted to visit Bermuda. Maybe if I grew a bushy chin beard and wore a turban…
Other Uighurs have been sent to the Pacific island of Palau. It’s located about one thousand miles SE of Manila and 800 miles SW of Guam. It’s been reported that the tiny island nation will be getting $200 million from the US government as part of the deal. Isn’t it nice to have unlimited funds with which to solve pesky problems?
The U.S. would not send the Uighurs back to China, where they came from, for fear they will be tortured or executed. Beijing says Uighur insurgents are leading an Islamic separatist movement in China's far west and wants those held at Guantanamo to be returned to China. I don’t suppose China is buying their claims of being merely innocents who were arrested while just walking along minding their own business.
Italy has agreed to accept three detainees from Guantanamo Bay, President Barack Obama said Monday, following a visit by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. I suppose that’s some sort of progress, but it seems a little slow. How many presidents, prime ministers and friendly dictators will Obama have to meet with before he finds countries that will take the rest of them? There are still over 200 to go and he hasn’t even started trying to fob off the really bad ones.