Profile of Yemeni Gitmo ex-convicts in Ghana

Mahmmoud Omar Mohammed Bin Atef, the 36-year-old Yemen citizen, and one of the two prisoners discharged by the United States from the Guantanamo Bay Prison to Ghana, is a one-time fighter for Osama Bin Laden, according a December 28, 2007 report by the US Department of Defense.

Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden, was the founder of al-Qaeda, the organization that claimed responsibility for the September 11 attacks on the United States, along with numerous other mass-casualty attacks against civilian and military targets.

According to documents published on the website of the New York Times, the man, who was transferred to Ghana on January 6, 2016, is quoted by the US Department of Defense as a former fighter of the terrorist group, al-Qaida.

Mahmmoud Omar Mohammed Bin Atef has five additional nicknames.He was born in Mecca in Saudi Arabia in 1979, but holds a Yemen citizenship due to his father’s citizenship.

He only completed first year of High School in Saudi Arabia, and held a job as a driver in Mecca during the Hajj period.

The document concluded that “Detainee [Mahmmoud Omar Mohammed Bin Atef] is assessed to be a fighter in the Usama Bin Laden’s (UBL) former 55th Arab Brigade and is an admitted member of the Taliban. Detainee participated in hostilities against US and Coalition forces and continues to demonstrate his support of UBL and extremism. Detainee accepted recruitment and facilitation from a known al-Qaeda member in Saudi Arabia, and acknowledged travelling to Afghanistan to participate in Jihadist combat.”

“He’s assessed to have stayed at al-Qaida and Taliban Guest Houses and admitted receiving militant training at the al-Qaida al-Faruq Training Camp. Detainees name was found on an al-Quaida affiliated document, and he has threatened to kill US citizens on multiple occasions including a specific threat to cut their throats upon his release. JTF-GTMO determined the detainee to be “a high-risk, as he is likely to post a threat to the US, its interests, allies, a high threat from a detention perspective and of medium intelligence value.

The New York Times Website however issued a disclaimer saying that it cannot independently verify the assertions of the 11-page document on Mahmmoud Omar Mohammed Bin Atef.

It explained that many of the allegations made, have been contested by detainees and their lawyers, and some have been undercut by other evidence.

The second Ex-Guantamo prisoner also transferred to Ghana on January 6, is 34 year old Khalid Shaykh Muhammad, who according to 2006 documents on the New York Times website, lived his entire life in Saudi Arabia, although he claimed Yemeni citizenship.

While studying at the Haram al-Makki Mosque, he met Abu Ali al-Yati who showed him videos of fighting and training in Chechnya.

Al-Yati convinced Khalid that the Koran stated all Muslims must know how to fight; thus became excited at the prospect, and decided to travel to Afghanistan for training.

Al-Yafi facilitated Khalid’s travel, including flight arrangements and funds. In August 2001, he began six weeks of training under the tutelage of an al-Qaida trainer.

The training consisted of familiarization with pistols, heavy machine gun, rocket-propelled grenade launcher, and hand-to-hand combat techniques. When he was later arrested by the US he denied awareness some of the people he has been dealing with who are connected to Usama Bin Laden.

Khalid Shaykh Muhammad had two nicknames.

The executive summary concluded that “The Detainee is assessed to be a probable member of al- Qaida who utilized the al-Qaida travel-network for access to Afghanistan (AF), and to receive militant training, Detainee maimed military positions in Tora Bora and probably engaged in hostile activities against coalition forces. Detainee Withholds information of intelligence value and has familial ties to extremism. He was thus determined to be:A Medium risk, as he may pose a threat to the US, its interests and allies, a medium threat from a detention perspective and Of meidum intelligence value.”

Ghanaians have reacted angrily to the decision of government to accept the two men, fearing the risk they pose to the country’s security.

But the US says it has clarified and addressed all security lapses before transferring the two Yemeni detainees, nearly six years after their transfer approval.

The two had been in detention for 14 years. However, a US multi-agency review undertaken at the start of the President Obama administration decided that both men posed minimal risk to national security and ought to be transferred.

The US Department of Defense in a statement on Wednesday said “the country was “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.”

The quiet negotiations between the US and Ghana over the matter are said to have taken about a year.

Ghana’s Foreign Minister

In an interview on Citi Eyewitness News on Wednesday, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Hanna Tetteh said, “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 says the US government will bear the full cost of the upkeep of the men in Ghana.

Syrians and Rwandans

Syrians and Rwandans Meanwhile, government has also agreed to provide humanitarian assistance to persons from Syria following the crisis that happened in the Middle East.

Hanna Tetteh explained that government decided to allow relatives of members of the Syrian community already resident in Ghana who have been displaced as a result of the conflict in their country to resettle in Ghana.

In the case of the two Rwandan refugees, the Ghana government was approached by representatives of the International Criminal Tribunal for that country, to resettle some of the persons who had been tried and had either been acquitted and discharged or had been sentenced and had served their time but did not find it appropriate to resettle in Rwanda.

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