It has been reported that the transfer of two ex-Guatanamo detainees from the Guatanamo Bay to Ghana was successful. The two ex-prisoners whose names were given as Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih Al-Dhuby are currently receiving humanitarian assistance in Ghana.
This move was in conjunction with the request of the US government to Ghana to help them clear, as well as close down the prison camp at Guatanamo Bay where all the malefactors are detained.
According to the Fox News, the two inmates have spent about 14 years at the Guatanamo Bay, and are the first of a group of 17 detainees expected to be transferred out of Guantanamo Bay that includes “multiple bad guys” and “Al Qaeda followers.”
Although the two inmates claim to be ‘taxi driver’ and ‘cook’ respectively, it has been discovered through some reliable documents that they have serious terrorist backgrounds. Bin Atef was an admitted member of the Taliban and fought for Osama bin Laden, while Al-Dhuby trained with Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. Records has it that two of them are Yemenis.
These discoveries appear to contradict claims by Ghana’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration that both detainees had been cleared of any terrorism-related links by the US authorities and did not pose any danger to Ghana.
An International Relations expert, Professor Keith Bluwey, told Accra-based Starr FM Thursday that the decision was “reckless” and “dangerous”, adding that the government was only interested in the financial benefits that it may derive from it.
It is not in our interest, these people are not ordinary refugees who are being found places of rest, these are criminals, terrorists to the core, Osama Bin Laden activists and they should have no place in Ghana,’ he said.
Moreover, the idea that two are free of terrorism tendencies is disputed by the Fox news report, which noted that the US government had earlier determined that bin Atef was a high risk to the US and to American interests, while Al-Dhuby posed a medium risk.
The decision to host the detainees in Ghana has provoked a firestorm of controversy and outrage among Ghanaians, with many expressing fear that the move would undermine Ghana’s internal security and expose the country to attacks from religious extremists.
On social media, the decision has been greeted by a mixture of anger, disbelief and fear.
Nana Awere Damoah, a writer and active voice in the Ghanaian social media sphere, remarked on Facebook:
I just listened to a playback of the BBC report on the Guantanamo detainees. Ghana says their activities will be monitored. Monitored? Are we able to monitor anything in this country?”
Also, in an interview on Citi Eyewitness News on Wednesday, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Hanna Tetteh was not even able to give a confident explanation on the issue. This is what she had to say:
When the request was made to us by the United States government, we asked our ambassador, General Smith to also go and assess the situation for us and to make recommendations.
He had the opportunity to go to Guantanamo, visited persons who they were requesting us to take and he was the one who made the recommendations to us…”
They [Atef and Al-Dhuby] are unable to return to Yemen at the moment” and that the Ghana government has agreed to accept them for a period of two years after which they may leave the country.
Government also says the US government will bear the full cost of the upkeep of the men in Ghana. In a statement on its website, the US Department of Defense said it provided the necessary security assistance to Ghana in order to ensure a smooth transfer of the inmates.
As directed by the president’s Jan. 22, 2009, executive order, the interagency Guantanamo Review Task Force conducted a comprehensive review of these cases. As a result of those reviews, which examined a number of factors, including security issues, Atef and Al-Dhuby were unanimously approved for transfer by the six departments and agencies comprising the task force,” the statement said.
Meanwhile, the US government has expressed her gratitude to the government of Ghana for granting their request. This is also included in the aforementioned statement which reads thus:
The US is grateful to the Government of Ghana for its humanitarian gesture and willingness to support ongoing U.S. efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. The United States coordinated with the Government of Ghana to ensure these transfers took place consistent with appropriate security and humane treatment measures.”
Moreover, it was reported that one of the received former Guatanamo inmates, Mahmmoud Omar Mohammed Bin Atef expressed his happiness over being received into Ghana.
The New York Times reported that George Clarke, a lawyer for Mr Bin Atef, said his client was upset with the US authorities for imprisoning him for nearly 14 years without trial. The paper quoted Mr Clarke as saying that for the six months he had represented Mr Bin Atef, he had found him to be a “friendly, nice guy” who was “positive and has a good attitude ”
He is very appreciative and happy the Ghanians are taking him,” he was quoted according to the New York Times.
On this same recent development, the President of Imani Ghana, Franklin Cudjoe, described the move as “an unwise decision”, adding that Foreign Minister must resign as a consequence. He expressed his annoyance over the fact that the Foreign Affairs Minister only disclosed the information when the detainees were already boarded for Ghana.
This is a very unwise decision and for the foreign minister to tell us this when these individuals were enplaning to Ghana is disrespectful and she must resign,” he said.