New information emerging indicates that the two ex-Guantanamo Bay inmates currently cooling off in Ghana, are of a “high security risk” to the country, contrary to earlier information provided by the United States government.
A report on the two – Mahmoud Omar Mohammed Bin Atef, 36 and Khalid Muhammad Salih Al-Dhuby, 34 – both Yemeni nationals – by the US whistle blower, WikiLeaks, states that the former inmates took active part in the operations of terrorist group, AI-Qaeda.
The 2007 Wikileaks report on Bin Atef said the “detainee’s name was found on an al-Qaeda affiliated document, and he has threatened to kill US citizens on multiple occasions, including a specific threat to cut their throats upon his release.”
It further stated that Bin Atef was “a high risk, as he is likely to pose a threat to the US, its interests, and allies.”
Al-Dhuby, according to the 2006 Wikileaks report, was said to be of “medium risk, as he may pose a threat to the US, its interests and allies”
The revelation contrasts claims by the Government of Ghana that the two pose no threat to the security of the country.
President John Mahama in his recent interaction with journalists at the Flagstaff House, defended the presence of the two in the country, insisting that they are of “low level risk” with no potential danger to Ghana.
However, it has turned out that Mohammed Bin Atef was “a fighter in Osama bin Laden’s former 55th Arab Brigade and is an admitted member of the Taliban group.
He trained at al-Farouq, the infamous al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan, “participated in hostilities against US and coalition forces, and continues to demonstrate his support of Osama bin Laden and extremism.”
Their admission into Ghana has raised a huge controversy with civil society groups and religious leaders kicking against the decision to bring them into the country.
The Christian Council of Ghana, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference, the Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council (GPCC), political parties and other pressure groups have condemned government’s decision to shelter the two ex-detainees.
Bishop Joseph Osei Bonsu, Chairman of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Ghana specifically lashed out at John Mahama’s call for Ghanaians to show compassion to prisoners, adding that compassion must be balanced with common sense, especially since the presence of the suspected two Al-Qaeda terrorists portend great danger for the country.
He said if compassion mattered so much in issues of criminality, then Ghana’s prisoners must be released.
The government is currently seeking further clarification from the United States following revelations in the WikiLeaks.
Hanna Tetteh, Foreign Affairs Minister, is on record to have said on Accra-based Starr FM that the WikiLeaks risk assessment report on the two individuals was not made available to the government in the year long discussions with the US over the freed inmates.
She is reported to have said, “…The document that was made available to us was the assessment of the two detainees…the information from WikiLeaks was not part of documents available to us.”
Already, key government officials including the Foreign Affairs Minister; Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Marietta Brew Appiah Opong and the Interior Minister, Mark Woyongo; have variously denied their involvement in the decision that brought the two, even though they (ministers) are all members of the National Security Council, chaired by the president.
Meanwhile, Daniel Fennell, Head of Public Affairs section of the US Embassy in Ghana, has confirmed the fears of Ghanaians.
He is quoted to have claimed in an interview on Adom FM’s Morning Show programme, ‘Dwaso Nsem,’ that the two currently hosted in the country pose a ‘small risk’ to Ghana’s security.
“There is no guarantee in the world of anyone’s behaviour in any country but we have taken all the necessary precautions and we can guarantee that the risk is very very small…,” he said.
interview with Citi FM on Friday, the Public Affairs Counselor said returning the two men is out of the question since it was a done deal.
“I just don’t see that as a possible eventuality; I think this is a positive movement. Ghana is showing leadership; it makes the world safer and better, and it is very little risk to it and we appreciate their leadership; we appreciate their partnership,” Mr Fennel said.
Mr Fennell disclosed that Ghana and the US are sharing the costs for the upkeep of the ex-detainees, even though the government had stated that there are no financial commitments on the part of the country.
By Jeffrey De-Graft Johnson