Category Archive 'Bermuda'

15 Jun 2009

Uighurs in Bermuda

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Uighurs in Paradise

Back in 1959, well before Vietnam, there was a very funny Peter Sellers comedy called The Mouse That Roared.

Impoverished by the collapse of its only industry, the tiny European Duchy of Grand Fenwick proposes to declare war on the United States, lose, and then achieve prosperity via US reconstruction assistance and aid to a defeated foe.

American charity to wartime enemies was sufficiently notorious in the post-WWII era to provide themes for comedy, but it never occurred to George Marshall or Harry Truman to dispatch captured members of Axis forces to tropical resorts in the manner described by yesterday’s New York Times.

Almost exactly seven years after arriving at Guantánamo in chains as accused enemy combatants, and four days after their surprise predawn flight to Bermuda, four Uighur Muslim men basked in their new-found freedom here, grateful for the handshakes many residents had offered and marveling at the serene beauty of this tidy, postcard island.

In newly purchased polo shirts and chinos, the four husky men, members of a restive ethnic minority from western China, might blend in except for their scruffy beards. Smelling hibiscus flowers, luxuriating in the freedom to drift through scenic streets and harbors, they expressed wonder at their good fortune in landing here after a captivity that included more than a year in solitary confinement. …

“Before we were asking, ‘Why are the Americans doing this to us?’ ” said Mr. Abdulahat. Now, he said, with others nodding in agreement, “We have ended up in such a beautiful place….

While some less affluent residents said they felt it was unfair to offer jobs and citizenship to men the United States itself would not take, many others shrugged and expressed pride at Bermudan hospitality. As the men venture from the seaside cottage where they temporarily live until they get jobs and figure out next steps, people often come up to shake their hands and wish them well, and the men said they were deeply touched.

Their homeland of Xinjiang, a largely Muslim region in western China where many residents chafe under Chinese rule, is landlocked, and many of the Uighur detainees saw an ocean — still a distant, mysterious presence — for the first time ever through fences at Guantánamo.

Now they can play in the waters. Khaleel Mamut, 31, said he went fishing on a boat on Saturday and caught his first fish ever. “I was so excited,” he said. “You just drop the hook in the water and you get a fish.” Hearing that fishing did not always bring such quick results, one of the other men quipped that perhaps the fish were joining in Bermuda’s welcome.

They have been promised work visas and, in perhaps a year or so, possible citizenship, their American lawyers said. That would give them passports and a right to travel.

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Tired of living in hopeless poverty driving sheep across the Gobi’s trackless sands? Get yourself an AK-47 and start taking potshots at US troops. Maybe you, too, will be captured and awarded a new life in a tropical resort at US taxpayers’ expense. Allahu Akhbar!

12 Jun 2009

Four Uighurs, Trained at Tora Bora, Will Be Going to Bermuda

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Thomas Joscelyn has news on the Obama Administration’s latest tropical retirement for terrorists at US taxpayers’ expense breakthrough.

Surviving German and Italian prisoners of war of the WWII era, who were, after all, lawful combatants fighting in uniform as members of military forces typically observing the laws and customs of war, were by comparison lodged in Spartan conditions behind barbed wire and commonly required to perform agricultural or construction labor. Those Axis POWs must be feeling a trifle slighted. No one ever offered to release them into new lives in vacation playgrounds.

Palau is not the only resort island willing to take the Uighurs detained at Guantanamo. The Obama administration has transferred four Uighurs to Bermuda, which is, of course, much closer to the continental U.S. than Palau. Understandably, the Obama administration has placed travel restrictions on the Uighurs. ABC News reports that they are not allowed to travel to the U.S. without prior consent.

This alone is somewhat of a reversal by the administration, since it was reportedly considering freeing some of the Uighur detainees in the U.S. at one point. One wonders what our European allies will think, too. Leading European nations were only willing to consider taking detainees, including the Uighurs, if the administration showed a willingness to release them on U.S. soil. While the administration has found a home for the Uighurs, it fails to satisfy the quid pro quo conditions that our allies have demanded. Keep an eye out for Europe’s reaction to this news, and whether attitudes across the pond evolve. The reaction of European politicians could very well be: If the Obama administration won’t even allow former detainees to travel to the U.S., then why should we free them in our own nations?

So, who are Bermuda’s new residents? And why would the Obama administration place travel restrictions on them?

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.


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