Gitmo transfer: Why is Ghana carrying U.S.'s cross?

Mahama With Hanna Tetteh File photo of President John Dramani Mahama with Hannah Tetteh, Foreign Affairs Minister

Thu, 7 Jan 2016 Source: classfmonline.com

Ghana is importing security trouble from the international community by its decision to accept to house for two year, two former Guantanamo Bay detainees in the West African country, a former presidential advisor in the Kufuor administration, Vicky Bright, has told Ekow Mensah Shalders on Class91.3fm’s Executive Breakfast Show on Thursday, January 7, 2016.

Ms. Bright said she was puzzled by the decision of the government of Ghana to accept Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih Al-Dhuby, “when the people, who put them in Guantanamo Bay – their own parliament and congress –, have rejected them. So, what business do we have [accepting them to Ghana?] We can’t even solve our own problems, so, why are we now coming to add to it, a problem that’s been created by some people and we are importing it to Ghana.”

The transfer of the two is the first of an expected 17 such transfers approved for January, the Pentagon announced Wednesday.

Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih Al-Dhuby were held for more than 13 years at the detention facility in Cuba. They were unanimously approved for transfer by the interagency Guantanamo Review Task Force, according to a Pentagon statement issued Wednesday afternoon.

The task force is comprised of six departments and agencies charged with determining which detainees can be safely transferred from the facility.

“The United States 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 statement read.

“The United States coordinated with the Government of Ghana to ensure these transfers took place consistent with appropriate security and humane treatment measures,” it added.

Guantanamo Bay now holds 105 detainees. Fifty-nine are not eligible for transfer for security reasons.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter last month notified Congress that 17 detainees would be transferred from the facility to other nations throughout January. Fifteen of them were transferred last year.

Bin Atef, according to the New York Times Guantanamo Docket, was born in 1979 in Saudi Arabia and fought with Osama Bin Laden’s 55th Arab Brigade and was an admitted member of the Taliban. He was captured in Afghanistan and transferred to U.S. custody about January 2002 after engaging in combat against the American-led coalition.

Like Bin Atef, Salih Al-Dhuby was born in Saudi Arabia and claims Yemeni citizenship, according to the New York Times Guantanamo Docket. The suspected Al-Qaida member was born in 1981 and was captured by Afghan forces in December 2001 following an explosion near Tora Bora. He’s been held at Guantanamo since May 2002.

President Barack Obama has promised to close the Guantanamo Bay facility since he was a candidate in 2008 but has struggled to do so amid Congressional opposition to move detainees to a prison in the United States. The 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, passed in November, banned moving any detainees to the United States. Obama announced at the time he opposed that provision, but he signed the bill anyway.

The Government of Ghana has assured Ghanaians that the country will not be vulnerable to terrorist attacks in anyway by dint of the transfer of the two.

Ms. Bright, however, asked: “Do we even have the facilities to monitor these people? I mean are we serious? And who allowed this?”

“This is a small country, it’s a developing country and we have problems – I’d like to believe that we are trying to solve our problems – we shouldn’t come and add to those problems... I know that Guantanamo Bay was set up to try and protect the world from terrorism. It has been a very controversial set up and there has been a lot of talks at various international levels about it, I am not in a position to pass judgment in one way or the other and I don’t wish to, all I’m saying is that if the Americans, who put them there are rejecting them, then why are we taking them on? Someone should explain that to Ghanaians rather than it being imposed on us,” she added.

Source: classfmonline.com
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