Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Bermuda Isn't Feeling the Love for the Uighurs or for Premier Brown

All is not well in Bermuda. Despite the warm, fuzzy photographs of the Gitmo Uighurs swimming in the ocean, eating butter pecan ice cream cones, and strolling along the streets, not everyone is happy they are there.

The Royal Gazette of Bermuda reports that there was a large (by Bermuda standards!) protest today to demand Premier Ewart Brown's resignation. Dr. Brown is the official who allowed the transfer of the Uighurs from Gitmo to Bermuda without consulting anyone else.

Commissioner of Police George Jackson learned on the morning of their arrival that the Uighurs were coming and it was only then that he was able to conduct a security assessment on them.

"According to Mr. Jackson, he received a folder with 'unclassified information”'on the Uighurs on Friday, afterwhich a 'preliminary threat assessment' on the men was run by Police. Based on the limited information available, the overall threat assessment was deemed to be ‘high’, he said. 'This was conveyed to the Governor and Minister Burch on Friday afternoon. Simultaneously, contact was made with our security agency partners and a more comprehensive threat assessment was commenced.'"

The protesters said they are not criticizing the Uighurs so much as the way the transfer was done. They are angry at Dr. Brown for not consulting anyone else and are demanding his resignation. They are rightly concerned about tourism, also.

Meanwhile, the media is portraying the Uighurs as cuddly little misunderstood castoffs, showing them eating ice cream and swimming in the ocean. And they look mighty healthy in these photos I'm seeing, by the way, for someone coming out of "hell."

For a refresher course on these cuddly, ice cream eating, ocean swimming Uighurs, refer back to Thomas Joscelyn who has done extensive reporting on them:

First, the Uighur detainees are alleged, for good reasons, to be members or associates of the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM). The ETIM is a designated terrorist organization affiliated with al Qaeda.

There is sound evidence that the Uighur detainees are affiliated with the ETIM. For example, most of the detainees have made admissions during their tribunals and hearings at Guantanamo that tie them to the group. The ETIM is a jihadist organization and not part of some noble anti-China resistance. So, even if you have sympathy for the Chinese government’s opposition (as I do), including other Uighur organizations, the Uighur detainees at Guantanamo are not part of any legitimate, anti-Chinese government organization that deserves our support. The ETIM is an ideological cousin of al Qaeda that seeks to establish a radical Islamist state throughout South and Central Asia.

Second, many of the Uighur detainees have freely admitted during their tribunals and hearings at Guantanamo that they were trained by two known terrorists: Hasan Mahsum and Abdul Haq.

Mahsum was killed in Waziristan in 2003. Haq is still active. Neither Mahsum nor Haq can be considered legitimate freedom fighters. Open source accounts, as well as the testimony of knowledgeable experts, indicate that both Haq and Mahsum had ties to senior al Qaeda terrorists, including Osama bin Laden and Abu Zubaydah. Mahsum operated in the Mullah Omar’s Kabul for years and received the Taliban’s support repeatedly.

Third, the Uighur detainees’ training took place at a camp in Tora Bora, Afghanistan -– a known stronghold for al Qaeda and the Taliban.

There is no dispute over the fact that the Uighur detainees were at Tora Bora both before and after 9/11. You will recall that Tora Bora became the fallback zone for retreating jihadist forces after the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan. Most, if not all, of the Uighur detainees fled Tora Bora for Pakistan, where they were picked up. Some have tried to argue that there is no proof that the Taliban and/or al Qaeda sponsored the Tora Bora camp. But this is sheer nonsense. It is difficult to believe that the ETIM could have operated inside the heart of Taliban country without at least the acquiescence of senior Taliban and al Qaeda members. And there is evidence that the Tora Bora camp was sponsored by them.

Fourth, the Uighur detainees’ training makes them a potential threat not just to the Chinese government/military forces.

Meanwhile, the Bermudans are protesting. Reuters reported that "Tuesday's protest was aimed not so much at the Uighurs as at Brown for his failure to consult the island's people or governor and his perceived snub of Britain's Queen Elizabeth, whom the governor represents. Bermuda, a banking center and tourist destination, is Britain's oldest colony and one of the world's wealthiest places."

This might have been avoided had the Obama White House done their job and covered all the bases. Unless, as I said before, and like the pattern seems to indicate with other issues, they are being intentionally deceptive.

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