On Terrorist Strikes: US Official Allays Fears Over Gitmo Two In Ghana
……..And Insists They Are No Threat
A United States official has stressed that the two Guantanamo Bay detainees currently being hosted by Ghana pose no threat at all to Ghana’s security and its people as both the US and Ghanaian governments are in control of the situation.
Making this remark in a press briefing to foreign reporters in the United States last week, Mr. Mark Toner, who is the deputy spokesperson of the United States Department of State, additionally expressed the US gratitude to Ghana and other countries for accepting the detainees.
As part of President Barack Obama’s decision to close down the Guantanamo Bay detention centre in Cuba before he leaves office in 2017, the United States are distributing some of the detainees to some other countries, for which reason two of them – Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih Al-Dhuby who were held since 2002 – were transferred to Ghana in January.
But the decision of the Ghanaian government to accept these two detainees of Yemeni nationality has become a big issue in Ghana in the last two months and raised wild criticisms from especially the opposition concerning the risk involved in accepting theses persons seen as terrorists and security threat.
This prompted the intervention of President John Mahama and his government to come out to strongly defend Ghana’s decision to accept the detainees, a move which has still not satisfied most people.
In support of Mahama’s defense, Mr. Toner pointed out that the US made sure the two detainees are risk-free before deciding to transfer them to Ghana.
“In terms of how these countries, these governments, or law enforcement within these governments are able to track these individuals, keep eyes and ears, if you will, on them, first of all, all of the individuals who are repatriated or sent to other countries overseas have gone through a very, very rigorous exercise, screening process, to – in order to be deemed fit to be able to – or fit for resettlement overseas,” he said, “And that screening process determines that these individuals are no longer the threat that they may have once posed as terrorists or would-be terrorists in the battlefield.”
He also revealed that the US is keeping tabs on all of the detainees sent to Ghana and other countries.
“But without getting into too many specifics in a public setting, we obviously always try to monitor all of these detainees as they resettle abroad – monitor their progress. Obviously, we want to see them resettle successfully, but we work with those governments generous enough to host them in order to ensure that their security concerns are addressed.”
The US department of state deputy spokesperson observed that the decision to transfer some of the Guantanamo detainees to some countries is a collaborative effort in Obama’s desire to see the end of the detention centre before his term expires next year, and as such expressed the US’s gratefulness to countries such as Ghana for their support in this case.
“First of all, we work with a number of countries around the world as we’ve sought to accomplish, frankly, one of the core objectives of this Administration. Once President Obama came into office, he said he wanted to close the Guantanamo detention center there because he felt like it was a – it had become an image of the United States that was, frankly, counterproductive to the kind of image we want to present around the world.
“Part of that effort, and we have relied greatly on the – on countries like Ghana, but other countries around the world. Albania is another leader in accepting some of these detainees. We have managed to find homes for many of these detainees.
“And again, we’re extremely grateful to countries like Ghana and, as I said, many other countries around the world who have helped us or are helping us achieve, as I said, our goal of closing down Guantanamo. (We) appreciate it.”
By Aristo Dotse, New York
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