Riding roughshod over our ally, and for what? As Jed Babbin explains here, “reviewing the Uighurs detention, the inter-agency panel found that they weren’t the ignorant, innocent goatherds the White House believed them to be. The committee determined they were too dangerous to release because they were members of the ETIM terrorist group, the ‘East Turkistan Islamic Movement,’ and because their presence at the al-Qaeda training camp was no accident. There is now no ETIM terrorist cell in the United States: there will be one if these Uighurs are released into the United States.”
Instead, that cell is in Bermuda, soaking up the rays, on the American taxpayer’s dime.
They look like ordinary tourists as they stroll along the seafront on the British territory of Bermuda, but these four men are far from regular sunseekers for they have spent the last seven years locked up in Guantanamo Bay.
The former terror suspects are Uighurs – members of China’s Muslim Turkic-speaking minority – and hail from a rugged province in the far west of the country.
They were detained by the Americans, who eventually determined they were not a threat to the United States. But because no country volunteered to take them and it was feared they would be detained and tortured if they were returned to China, the men were left in limbo.
Now they have been given a chance by officials in the millionaire’s playground – an island paradise that doubles as one of the wealthiest countries in the world.
And already they have dreams of opening the first Uighur restaurant.
Embracing the delights of their new island home, the Uighurs have already taken a sunset swim and caught a fish at their first attempt at fishing. They have also reverted to their real names after using pseudonyms since leaving China….
He and his companions have traded drab prison jumpsuits for comfortable cotton pants and knit shirts, and razor wire-encircled jail compounds for beach cottages, where they are staying at U.S. taxpayers’ expense….
Thirteen other Uighurs at Guantanamo are hoping to move to the Pacific island nation of Palau….
All of the Uighurs were captured in Pakistan and Afghanistan as suspected allies of the Taliban and al-Qaeda. But the men claimed they had only fled oppression by China and were never enemies of the U.S.
Yeah, when fleeing oppression, Afghanistan is the place to go.
‘We only have one enemy, and that’s the Chinese,’ one of the men, Ablikim Turahun, told a military tribunal in 2004.
‘They have been torturing us and killing us all: old, young, men, women, little children and unborn children.’
U.S. officials eventually declared the Uighurs innocent of any wrongdoing and authorized their release, but they couldn’t be sent back to China because U.S. law forbids deporting someone to a country where they are likely to face torture or persecution.
Albania took in five Uighurs in 2006 but refused to take any more, and other countries balked at resettling any of the others – until Bermuda stepped forward last week.
The surprise deal, done behind Britain’s back, has angered many of the island’s 68,000 people and prompted a call by the opposition for the local Parliament to hold a no-confidence vote in the government.
A protest march is expected to take place on the island this Thursday….
The Foreign Office, which controls the colony’s security, expressed shock at the deal between the U.S. and Bermudian Premier Ewart Brown.
‘We are deeply disappointed that they negotiated the movement of the four people here with the United States without consulting us because, to us, it pretty clearly cuts across foreign affairs and security issues,’ said island Governor Sir Richard Gozney.
Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague said it was ‘astonishing’ that Downing Street knew nothing of the deal.
Senior MP Mike Gapes, who chairs the influential Commons foreign affairs committee, accused the U.S. of ‘riding roughshod’ over the UK in securing the deal….