Monday, September 18, 2006

ESCAPE TO HELL: Fleeing China, Landing in Guantanamo

Der Spiegel

July 14, 2006


Fleeing China, Landing in Guantanamo

By Hauke Goos

In 2000, five men left their homes in northern China to escape the prospect of torture and imprisonment. They dreamed of a future in the United States. Caught up in America's war on terror along the way, they instead ended up in Guantanamo. It's been six years since they last saw their families.

They sit on their beds in a barracks on the outskirts of the city, waiting. The door is ajar, revealing a cloudless late spring day in Tirana, Albania, where it promises to be a hot day. None of the five men says a word. They've been waiting -- not just the entire morning, not just the entire day before, but the past five years -- for some country, any country, to agree to grant them political asylum.

They want to move on with their lives.

Through the window they see a white United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) Toyota pull into the courtyard. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is visiting China today, where she'll meet with President Hu Jintao. They'll be discussing human rights, or so they say. Every politician who visits China these days is supposedly there to talk about human rights. But true or not, the news represents a shred of hope for the five men.

They're wearing short-sleeved shirts and brand-new sneakers. Abu Bakker Qassim, the oldest, has taken on the role of the group's leader. Adel Abdulhehim has three children back home in China. Akhdar Qasem Basit rarely speaks. Ahmed Adil was so frustrated with the endless wait that he finally wrote a letter to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Ayub Haji Mohammed, the youngest, left his parents' home at 18 to study in the United States.

They look as if this weren't the first time they had dressed up in anticipation of finally beginning their new lives.

The men are Uighurs, members of a Turkic minority in China's far northwest Xinjiang Uygur region bordering Mongolia. The Uighurs dream of having their own country one day, East Turkestan. In the eyes of the Chinese government, that makes them potential terrorists.

A road to nowhere

The five men left their home six years ago, hoping to escape repression at the hands of Chinese authorities, hoping to find a better, freer life abroad. But then came September 11, and the men became entangled in the machinery of world politics. They were bombed and beaten, betrayed, accused and humiliated. They finally ended up in Guantanamo.

The driver of the white Toyota walks toward the office. The five men watch. They share three sleeping rooms and one toilet. The walls are painted a swimming pool green, the windows are barred and bare light bulbs hang from the ceiling. Albania's national refugee camp was once a military barracks. A uniformed guard stands at the door.

Human rights activists were still interested in the five Uighurs when they were prisoners of the Americans. But now that they have been released, they are more a practical problem than a moral one. The United States doesn't want them, they can't go back to China, and many other countries -- Germany included -- have refused to grant them asylum. Everyone, it seems, is worried about offending China, a powerful trading partner.

Ayub, the youngest, walks to the window, which frames a view of shimmering mountains in the distance. He is thin, wears his black shirt over his belt and sports the beginnings of a traditional Uighur man's black moustache. He points outside.

The camp is surrounded by a high wall, topped by rolls of barbed wire glinting in the sun. The men are free, but they remain prisoners -- five young men unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, five men who went to war without knowing it.

Abu Bakker Qassim, the eldest, used to think it was all a big misunderstanding. Back in Xinjiang, which he and the others call East Turkestan, he was trained as an upholsterer. After working in a state-owned leather factory, he started his own business. He is a quiet, affable man with large glasses. The inscription on his T-shirt reads "Athletic 76 - Boys of Europe."

Abu Bakker says his parents were nationalists, but their nationalism was impotent and silent. They were at odds with Chinese policies and dreamed of independence, but they never dared do anything about it.

Until February 1997, that is. That was when the Uighurs took to the streets in Yining, Abu Bakker's home town, demanding social and religious freedom. Abu Bakker, 28 at the time, didn't participate. He had married three years earlier and his new wife had given birth to a son a short time later. At the time, he preferred caution over nationalism.

Instead of marching, he witnessed how the police broke up the protests. "They were shooting at children and they used water cannons at temperatures of twenty below zero," he says. "They arrested tens of thousands." At least 10 people were killed and more than 190 injured.

For Abu Bakker, husband, father, small businessman, this demonstration was an eye-opening experience. He decided to express his views in the future, even publicly. Like others in Yining, he knew that the Uighurs had their own country once, between 1944 and 1949, and that they only wanted what they believed was rightfully theirs.

"Suddenly we began openly criticizing China. We didn't think it was a crime to be an Uighur, to earn money and to work for a better life."

Tortured in China

Abu Bakker was arrested in 1998, one year after the protests. He was tortured with electroshocks until he was finally willing to confess to practically any accusations. After seven months he was released, but his fears stayed with him. He was afraid for his family and his own life, constantly anticipating an ominous, nighttime knock at the door.

He decided to leave China. In January 2000, Abu Bakker went to Kyrgyzstan, where he sold Russian watches, ropes and bags in a local market. His plan was to earn enough money to bring his wife and child to Kyrgyzstan, so that they could continue on to Turkey, where many Uighurs live. And perhaps, he thought, they would move to America one day.

The United States is a promised land of sorts for most Uighurs. It has a few Uighur communities, Radio Free Asia is based there and even an Uighur-American Association, founded in Washington in 1998. The US is seen as tolerant, and many Uighurs believe that those who make it there can fight for the Uighur cause without having to risk their lives in China.

Abu Bakker met Adel Abdulhehim -- the man with three children back home -- in Kyrgyzstan. Six years younger than Abu Bakker, Adel had already been imprisoned a number of times. His brother-in-law was one of the organizers of the February 1997 demonstration and was later executed. The two men decided to go to Turkey, where they had an Uighur acquaintance who owned a leather goods factory.

In mid-2001 they traveled through Tajikistan, then crossed the border into Pakistan. To save money, they decided to travel by bus, which meant they would need a visa for Iran. Because Pakistan often sends Uighur refugees back to China, the two men decided to wait for the visa in neighboring Afghanistan. They had heard about a group of Uighurs who lived in a camp not far from the Afghan city of Jalalabad, just across the border, where they hoped to stay until their visas arrived.

There are two opinions about this camp. Abu Bakker and the other men describe it as little more than a collection of run-down huts. But for the US government, it's an al-Qaida camp where Muslim terrorists are trained to do battle against America.

The two men met two other Uighurs in the camp, Akhdar Qasem Basit and Ahmed Adil. Ahmed, 26 at the time, had come to Afghanistan via Kazakhstan and Pakistan. He had hoped to earn money for his visa in Pakistan, but life there was more expensive than he had anticipated, and his funds ran out after a year. He wanted to go to Germany or Canada. Like Abu Bakker, Akhdar, 27, comes from Yining. He left when he ran into trouble with Chinese intelligence.

A man in the camp had a radio. But to avoid further dampening an already gloomy mood, he only reported good news, which meant that the men didn't find out what had happened in the United States on September 11, 2001. But the man with the radio did tell Adel that al-Qaida had attacked America, and that the US wanted the Taliban to hand over Osama bin Laden, who was allegedly hiding in Afghanistan. The two men were convinced that this conflict had nothing to do with them. They were merely guests in Afghanistan, and America was their ally.

But their certainty ended abruptly when American troops bombed the camp in October, forcing them to flee into the mountains. They had almost no food and sought shelter from the cold in caves. Ayub Haji Mohammed, the youngest in the group, had joined them shortly before they left the camp. His father had become modestly affluent with his clothing and textile business. The family planned to send Ayub to school in the United States, where they had distant relatives. But first they sent him to friends in Pakistan, from where he was to travel to the promised land.

What the men didn't know was that they were hiding in the mountains of Tora Bora, where the Americans believed bin Laden was also hiding. After persevering for two months, they decided to return to Pakistan, in a grueling, three-day trek across a landscape of snow-capped peaks.

The set-up

They received a warm welcome -- unusually warm, as they later realized -- in a village on Pakistani soil. But when they arrived they were exhausted, hungry and naïve, and gratified that the villagers had even slaughtered a lamb in their honor. After the meal they were taken to the local mosque. They were told that the police were searching the village and that they would be taken -- on Toyota pickup trucks -- to a safe place. "It was a trap, but how were we to know?" says Abu Bakker today, standing with the other men in the courtyard of the Albanian refugee camp. They may be safe now, but they have trouble understanding why every step along the way was a step in the wrong direction.

That night they were first taken to a Pakistani police station and then to a Pakistani prison. The Americans had offered a ransom for Muslims suspected of supporting al-Qaida.

"We were surprised," says Abu Bakker, "but we were also hopeful. We thought that if we identified ourselves as Chinese Uighurs, the Pakistanis would send us back to China. So we told them we were Uzbeki Afghans, hoping that they would turn us over to the Americans." China, they believed, was their enemy, and America their friend and ally.

"We were blindfolded and our hands were tied," says Ahmed. The captured Uighurs were then loaded into buses and taken to Kandahar. "Kandahar was worse than the Chinese prison," says Abu Bakker. "Soldiers in Kandahar beat up Ayub, the youngest in our group. They forced his arms behind his back and beat him on the knees."

The men were interrogated, yelled at, beaten and then interrogated again.

"Do you speak English?"


"Why don't you motherfuckers speak English?"

If they answered "yes," the soldiers would shout: "Where did you motherfuckers learn to speak English?"

After a week, one of the Uighurs noticed the US flag on a soldier's uniform. "We're in the hands of the Americans!" he told the others, clearly relieved. "We are safe!" They told the American soldiers about the Uighurs' struggle for freedom. "You have the wrong men," they kept telling their captors. "We don't have a problem with you. In fact, we have a common enemy: China."

After six months in Kandahar, the five Uighurs -- gagged, bound, blindfolded and hooded -- were taken to the airport, where they were given earplugs and loaded onto a plane.

Lost in Cuba

When they landed in Guantanamo in mid-2002, the men were given prisoner numbers 260, 276, 279, 283 and 293. By then they were considered terrorism suspects, but they had no idea why. The men had landed at a US naval base, but it was essentially a no-man's land where foreign citizens were ineligible to file legal complaints in US courts. The closer the men came to the promised land, the more they perceived it slipping beyond their reach.

They were neither prisoners-of-war nor criminals, but "enemy combatants." There were no charges, no hearings, no defense attorneys. According to US President George W. Bush, they could be held indefinitely, or for the duration of his "War on Terror." They were repeatedly interrogated. Are you associated with the "Islamic Movement of East Turkestan?" they asked. The Chinese government claims the Uighurs have connections to bin Laden, who it claims supports and directs the Uighurs' struggle for independence. The "Islamic Movement of East Turkestan," say Chinese authorities, is essentially an arm of al-Qaida.

To this day, Abu Bakker and the others deny having been members of the group. They are upholsterers, students, small businessmen, but not terrorists, they say. In fact, they believe that the "Islamic Movement of East Turkestan" is a phantom organization, invented and kept alive by the Chinese secret police.

Ayub, the youngest, suffered the most at the hands of the Americans. He has a food allergy and had been told to avoid eggs, bread and fish. After a doctor at Guantanamo confirmed the allergy, guards adhered to Ayub's dietary requirements by simply withholding the foods to which he is allergic. On some days they would place an empty plate into his cell. When Ayub asked why they had brought him an empty plate, they told him that it was his special diet -- doctor's orders. Why couldn't they bring him something else, he asked? No idea, the guards replied, suggesting he take up the matter with their superiors.

Ayub became very thin, at times weighing as little as 52 kilograms (115 lbs.). "When I sat down I was sitting on bones," he says. "I had no fat left and hardly any muscles." He began a hunger strike at least six times, "but it really didn't make any difference."

Once a few soldiers took pity on Ayub and brought him an apple. Ayub took it into his cell. Guards found the apple a short time later, but the stem was missing.

"Where's the stem?" they asked. "Where did you hide it?"

He said he didn't know. He asked them if they thought he had wanted to make a skeleton key with the stem. Ayub spent the next 28 days in solitary confinement.

In late 2004, a few months after the US Supreme Court ruled that prisoners at Guantanamo are entitled to have their cases heard in a US court, the prisoners had their first opportunity to appear before a military tribunal and respond to the charges that had been brought against them. At issue was their status as "enemy combatants" -- and their future.

Ayub, emaciated and worn down from months in solitary confinement, was suspicious. He was taken to a small room and told to sit on a white plastic chair. The chairman of the tribunal entered the room and sat down on a slightly raised, black leather chair in front of Ayub, whose feet were chained to a bolt set into the floor.

The tribunal accused him of traveling to Afghanistan to learn how to use weapons, and then fleeing to Pakistan with a group of armed Arabs. The minutes of the hearing show that, throughout the interrogation, Ayub believed that the Guantanamo tribunal was operating in the same way as a normal court.

"You said that you went to Afghanistan, but not for weapons training," says the clerk. "In that case, what was the reason?"

"I already said all that two and a half years ago," Ayub replies. "It's all in the records. I've already told you everything."

Ayub, Abu Bakker, Adel, Ahmed and Akhdar were given the status "no longer enemy combatant," which meant they were no longer considered dangerous. It was good news, but no one told the prisoners, who by then had been in Guantanamo for two and a half years.

They were also unaware that there was growing criticism in the United States of interrogation methods, the treatment of detainees and of Guantanamo in general. By then, human rights organizations had begun acting as intermediaries for lawyers eager to represent the prisoners.

Boston attorney Sabin Willett signed up because, as he says, he refused to allow the Bush administration to undermine the basic tenets of the US constitution. In March 2005, Willet filed a petition on behalf of Abu Bakker Qassim and Adel Abdulhehim, hoping to force the government to finally allow his clients to stand trial.

The plight of the Uighurs

With his prominent jaw and forelock, Willett, a Harvard graduate and partner in a respected Boston law firm, bears a passing resemblance to the young John F. Kennedy. A crime novelist in his spare time, Willett has a refined sense of timing and dramatics. "There is probably no group of Muslims anywhere in the world more pro-American than the Uighurs," he told a court. "The Uighurs have always suffered under religious and political persecution by the Chinese communists. I can remember the days when, in this country, we had a great deal of sympathy for someone with that kind of history." Willett wanted to protect his country's constitution against his government. And he was the first person who truly wanted to help the five Uighurs since they had left China.

Four months later, Willett was allowed to visit his clients in Guantanamo for the first time. When he discovered that they had long since been cleared of charges, he filed an emergency petition with the US Supreme Court. But no country was willing to accept the Uighurs. US officials say they spent two years searching for a suitable country to grant the men asylum, but that every one of the more than a hundred governments they contacted turned down their request.

On January 19, 2006, Ahmed wrote a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. "I find it difficult to imagine how a country like the United States, which claims that it promotes and protects the democratic rights of oppressed peoples, can treat someone the way I have been treated. I wonder whether the American government will keep me imprisoned here forever if it is unable to find a country that will accept me. Is this justice?"

A hearing was scheduled in Washington for May 8. It was a potentially precarious trial for the US government. Faced with the prospect of the court ordering the Uighurs to appear in person, which, by bringing them onto US soil, would have given the men the right to apply for political asylum, the government was suddenly in a hurry to take action.

An officer visited the five Uighurs in early May. "The US government has finally found a country that will accept you," he announced.

"Which country?" they asked, hoping it would be Germany. Munich has Europe's largest Uighur community, and the prospect of being sent there appealed to the men.

The officer said he had no information about that.

The Albanian abyss

Throughout the twelve-hour flight, the Uighurs were terrified that they were being returned to China. At approximately 9 p.m. local time, they landed at Mother Theresa Airport in Tirana, the capital of Albania, one of Europe's poorest countries. It was three days before the scheduled hearing in Washington.

The men had never been to Albania. They had no idea the country even existed, and they are now probably the only Uighurs in the entire country.

Sabin Willett, their attorney, received an email informing him of their release, but by then the Uighurs had already landed in Tirana.

In the country's national refugee camp, the five men were housed in a building next to the toilets. The camp has a volleyball net, a laundry and a small library. An Arab-English dictionary lies on Ayub's night table. "I am an experienced diver," Ayub reads, and smiles.

A bus is available to take them to downtown Tirana whenever they wish. But they have no money and no contacts here, so they walk aimlessly around the city -- five aliens in Albanian rush-hour traffic. They try to get a sense of what it feels like to be free, but it isn't easy.

A few days after arriving in Albania, Ahmed calls his mother in China. He hasn't seen her in seven years.

His aunt answers the telephone. "Salam alaikum," Ahmed says. She passes the phone to his mother.

"Is that you, mother?" Ahmed asks.

Then the two weep.

Ahmed asks about the family. They both know that Chinese intelligence is probably listening in on the conversation.

Abu Bakker saw his wife again two days earlier -- on a DVD. His family had managed to get the disc sent to Guantanamo, where he wasn't permitted to watch it because camp officials were unable to find a translator who could confirm that the contents were harmless. In the end, the DVD was sent to Tirana with the five Uighurs.

Abu Bakker stared at the screen. The recording shows his family and some friends sitting around a table, praying to God to protect Abu Bakker. He saw his father, who is since dead, and he saw his wife and his brother playing soccer in the snow with Abu Bakker's children. The children are twins, and his wife was pregnant with them when he left China. The two are now six years old. Abu Bakker has never seen them.

Ahmed, Ayub, Abu Bakker and the other former Guantanamo prisoners are calm and patient and without hatred. They still hope to see their wives and children again.

But their greatest wish, they say, is to live in the United States.

Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan

Lack of evidence continues to undermine China’s claims of ‘terrorism’ in East Turkistan

In late August 2006, the Chinese authorities claimed that security forces in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), also known as East Turkistan, have seized over 41 metric tons (45 tons) of explosives “from the hands of terrorists” since 1990.

The claim was made by Wang Lexiang, deputy director of the regional department of public security, during a conference on improving regulations covering civilian-use explosives in East Turkistan. Explosives are readily available throughout most parts of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and are used extensively in construction, mining and in road building and maintenance.

Wang Lexiang further claimed that around four tons of materials used for manufacturing explosives were also seized over the same period, along with large quantities of detonators, hand grenades and other military paraphernalia, all supposedly to be used by ‘terrorists’ against Chinese government targets.

However, Wang offered no evidence to support these claims, nor the claim during the same conference that security forces had foiled several plots by ‘separatists’ to sabotage oilfields, power plants and highways in East Turkistan.

“We’ve seen these kinds of statements before, but we’ve never seen any evidence to support them,” said Alim Seytoff, director of the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP). “If I knew a diplomatic way of saying ‘put up or shut up’, I’d say it,” he added.

Mr. Seytoff pointed out that in the absence of any independent verification, it is plausible that all explosives seized in East Turkistan – whether from farmers or miners – could conveniently be claimed by Chinese officials as originally intended for ‘terrorist’ use.

“It’s on the basis of these unsubstantiated claims – especially since 9/11 – that the Chinese government attempts to justify its crackdown on Uyghur political opposition to Chinese rule,” continued Mr. Seytoff. “The Chinese government wants the rest of the world to view the Uyghur people with the same disdain, suspicion and distrust as they themselves do; and post-9/11, repeatedly accusing Uyghurs of being terrorists can apparently be an effective way of achieving that – incredibly, we’ve started seeing the western press repeating these accusations with no caveat whatsoever.”

In light of the Chinese authorities’ extremely tight controls on information in East Turkistan, it is impossible to give an independent and accurate impression of the true scale and nature of political violence in the region. UHRP has compiled this short backgrounder not to analyze and discuss political violence in East Turkistan – about which very little is known – but rather to analyze and discuss the Chinese authorities’ claims on the nature and extent of political violence in the region.

It is hoped that this briefing will encourage a necessary and greater degree of skepticism towards the Chinese authorities’ statements on the situation in East Turkistan. This briefing is also intended to guide readers towards independently researched information and analysis which would be useful to the general reader wishing to try and assess for themselves the reality of the security situation in East Turkistan. Footnotes are provided throughout, and additional suggested reading is provided at the end of this backgrounder.

The figures

Even the most casual examination of Chinese government figures for armed and politically motivated violence against government and civilian targets in East Turkistan reveals glaring inconsistencies.

For example, in March 1999, the then-governor of the region, Abdulahat Abdurishit, claimed there had been “thousands” of explosions and assassinations throughout the 1990s. But by early September 2001, barely 18 months later, Abdulahat Abdurishit claimed that the situation in East Turkistan was actually “better then ever in history”.[1]

In the immediate wake of 9/11 the Chinese government again reversed its position, once more claiming an imminent threat of terrorism in East Turkistan while expressing an intention to stand “side by side with the United States in the war on terror”. At the time, skepticism towards China’s stance was so high that U.S. president George W. Bush saw it necessary to caution the Chinese government against using the war on terror as “an excuse to persecute minorities”.[2]

Nevertheless, the central Chinese government released a document in January 2002 called “‘East Turkistan’ terrorist forces cannot get away with impunity”, which claimed on the basis of “incomplete statistics” there had been “at least 200 incidents of terrorist violence, causing 162 deaths and more than 440 injuries” between 1990 and 2001.[3] However, the document’s vague language and incomplete tabulation of alleged incidents and casualties – as well as mention of alleged terrorist groups in East Turkistan never heard of before or since – inevitably undermined the document’s credibility.

The document was further undermined in 2004 when Ismael Tiliwaldi, the successor to Abdulahat Abdurishit, said, “In Xinjiang, not one incident of explosion or assassination took place in the last few years. […] Last year Xinjiang’s public security situation was very good.”[4] But in September 2005, Zhao Yongchen, deputy director of the counter-terrorism bureau under the ministry of public security, said that, “under the influence of many complex international and domestic factors, violent acts of terrorism in Xinjiang have been escalating seriously.”[5] He provided no details.

And then on August 30, 2006, Wang Lexiang stated at the conference where he presented the figures on the amount of explosives seized since 1990, that there had been a “successful” terrorist attack on a People’s Armed Police barracks and a railway line in 2004 – without giving any further evidence or details – and added that there remained a “grave social situation” in East Turkistan.[6] Again, this is despite a claim made in the People’s Daily just four days earlier that record levels of investment are pouring into the region.[7]

“Record levels of investment in a region aren’t usually an indicator of a grave threat of terrorism,” Mr. Seytoff pointed out. “It seems the Chinese authorities want it both ways: they’d have us believe that they’re fighting terrorism in a region where they’re also leading an economic miracle – well, which is it? What do they want us to believe? If it weren’t for the fact that Uyghurs are paying for this farce with their human rights and their future as a people, the Chinese government’s chopping and changing of the facts would be laughable.”

Other inaccuracies and accusations

Another central feature of the Chinese authorities’ claims on the levels and nature of terrorism in East Turkistan, particularly since 9/11, is that individuals and organizations in the region are closely affiliated with groups such as al-Qaeda and the Taliban – even receiving training and funding from them. On the basis of these claims, the Chinese authorities have attempted to portray East Turkistan as a ‘battleground’ in the ‘international war on terrorism’ – claims also made in the document “‘East Turkistan’ terrorists cannot get away with impunity”.

However, aside from the fact that – as usual – no corroborating evidence has ever been released to support this claim of a broader international jihad being fought in East Turkistan, it is notable also that the Uyghur people, East Turkistan and even Xinjiang have never been mentioned in the public pronouncements attributed to Osama bin-Laden and other al-Qaeda figures.

Although this detail is far from being conclusive evidence of no involvement by al-Qaeda in East Turkistan, the burden of proof of any involvement should be on the Chinese authorities. For its part, the Uyghur diaspora points out that the Uyghur people – unlike supporters of jihad – look to the United States as a model of human rights and democracy in contrast to the current regime in East Turkistan, and regard the United States as a natural ally of the Uyghur people. In addition, Uyghurs and other ethnic groups in the region refer to the fact that the first East Turkistan Republic in 1931-1934 was the first democratic Islamic republic in the world outside Turkey.

The Chinese authorities’ tendency to associate Uyghur political opponents in East Turkistan with al-Qaeda was exposed in August 2005 when members of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) conducted a mission to the region. Commission members and their staff were told by Chinese authorities that “elements of al-Qaeda” were targeting the mission during its visit to East Turkistan. The threat was found “not to be credible”, and according to the Commission, “seemed to have been issued to restrict Commission activities and to monitor its contact with local people not approved by government officials.”[8]

The Chinese authorities also accuse Uyghur political opponents abroad of engaging in terrorism, again without releasing any corroborating details or evidence. In August 2005, while the Chinese authorities in East Turkistan were preparing to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the XUAR, Wang Lequan, the most senior Chinese official in the region, publicly accused Ms. Rebiya Kadeer of plotting a terrorist attack on official celebrations in the regional capital of Urumchi.

Since her release from a Chinese prison in March 2005, Ms Rebiya Kadeer, a human rights activist and former prisoner of conscience, has worked to highlight the extremely poor human rights situation of the Uyghur people in East Turkistan. When she was released from prison, Ms. Kadeer was warned by Chinese officials not to speak out about the plight of the Uyghur people when she reached exile.

“It appears that Ms. Kadeer’s work has been such a cause of annoyance and embarrassment to the Chinese authorities that accusing her of plotting terrorist attacks is regarded in Beijing as an appropriate counter-strategy,” said Mr. Seytoff.


An obvious problem when attempting to discuss terrorism in East Turkistan is the definition of ‘terrorism’ itself. Indeed, even in international law a conclusive definition has yet to be agreed upon.

The Chinese authorities are very selective in their choice of which incidents and which people and organizations are defined as ‘terrorist’ and which are ‘criminal’. In recent testimony to the US government, Professor Dru Gladney, a prominent scholar on Uyghurs and other Turkic and Muslim peoples in China and Central Asia, referred to a study which showed that “[…] of 140 publicly reported ‘terrorist’ incidents in China between 1990-2000, only 25 can be connected to political causes or separatism, and only 17 events can be connected to Xinjiang or Uyghur separatists. The vast majority of incidents are best described as isolated cases of worker discontent and civil unrest, in a country that reported nearly 84,000 incidents of civil unrest in 2005 alone.”[9]

Another comprehensive study claims that there have been no acts of political violence in East Turkistan attributable to Uyghurs since 1998.[10] There may indeed have been other acts of violence perpetrated by Uyghurs against the Chinese government prior to and since 1998, but observers must be more careful than the Chinese authorities in deciding which of these acts constitutes ‘terrorism’ while similar acts are perpetrated throughout all of China.

While condemning without hesitation or reservation all acts of violence in East Turkistan, it is important to nevertheless consider the reasons why such violence may have occurred in the past and why it may have reason to occur again in the future. While the Chinese government claims political violence originates and is funded from jihadists abroad, there is a far more plausible explanation. Professor Gladney quotes from Oxford Analytica in his testimony:

“Distinguishing between genuine counter-terrorism and repression of minority rights is difficult and the Uyghur case points to a lack of international guidelines for doing so. In any case, Chinese policies, not foreign-sponsored terrorism, are the cause of Uyghur unrest. China’s development and control policy in Xinjiang is unlikely to stabilize the region as long as development benefits remain so unevenly distributed.”[11]

“The Uyghur people in East Turkistan face a daily chorus of half-truths, ‘propaganda’ and bare-faced lies from the Chinese authorities,” said Mr. Seytoff. “Uyghurs can’t argue back though, and it’s reached the stage now where if the government says ‘up is down’, Uyghurs in East Turkistan don’t dare disagree. So what we are saying now, and what we’d like to see everyone say to the Chinese authorities when they talk about all of these explosives and incidents and everything else, is ‘prove it’. That’s all.”

[1] “Violent Separatism in Xinjiang: A Critical Assessment”, James Milward, East-West Center Washington, 2004, p. 11, available at

[2] “China is with us, Bush insists”, Associated Press, October 19, 2001.
[3] “‘East Turkistan’ Terrorist Forces Cannot Get Away with Impunity”, January 21, 2002, Information Office of the State Council, available at

[4] “Governor says China’s Xinjiang has seen no terrorist attacks for years,” Xinhua, 12 April 2004.

[5] “Over 260 Acts of Terrorist Violence In and Outside China as 'East Turkistan' Becomes Main Terrorist Threat to China”, China Youth Daily, September 6, 2005, FBIS translated text.

[6] [Xinjiang da qingcha, shouji zhayao 41 dun duo] “Xinjiang great exposé, more than 41 tonnes of explosives captured”, August 30, 2006, Takung Pao, available (in Chinese) at

[7] “Xinjiang enters a golden age as investment capital pours in”, August 26, 2006, People’s Daily, available at

[8] “Policy Focus: China”, United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, September 2005, available at

[9] “China’s ‘Uyghur Problem’ and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization”, August 3, 2006, available at

[10] “Criminalising Ethnicity: Political repression in Xinjiang”, Nicolas Becquelin, China Rights Forum, Issue 1, 2004, available at

[11] “China’s ‘Uyghur Problem’ and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization”, August 3, 2006, available at

Suggested reading

Autonomy in Xinjiang: Han Nationalist Imperatives and Uyghur Discontent, BOVINGDON, Gardner, East-West Center Policy Studies 11, 2004.

Blow Up: Internal and External Challenges of Uyghur Separatism and Islamic Radicalism to Chinese Rule in Xinjiang, SHICHOR, Yitzhak, Asian Affairs: An American Review, June 22, 2005.
Available (to subscribers) via:

China and Xinjiang after September 11, SWANSTROM, Niklas, Asia Insights, No. 3 (2002).

China’s Anti-terrorism Legislation and Repression in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, Amnesty International, AI Index: ASA 17/010/2002, March 2002.

The Not-So-Silent Majority: Uyghur Resistance to Han Rule in Xinjiang, BOVINGDON, Gardner, Modern China, Vol. 28, No. 1, January 2002, pp. 39-78.
Available (to subscribers) via:

The Xinjiang Conflict: Uyghur Identity, Language Policy, and Political Discourse, DWYER, Arienne M., East-West Center Policy Studies 15, 2005.

The Xinjiang Problem, STARR, S. Frederick and FULLER, Graham E., Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, The Johns Hopkins University, January 2004.

Violent Separatism in Xinjiang: A Critical Assessment, MILLWARD, James, East-West Center Policy Studies 6, 2004.

Xinjiang at the turn of the century: the causes of separatism, MACKERRAS, Colin, Central Asian Survey (2001), 20(3), pp. 289-303.
Available (to subscribers) via:

The view from Guantánamo

By Abu Bakker Qassim

The New York Times


TIRANA, Albania I have been greatly saddened to hear that the Congress of the United States, a country I deeply admire, is considering new laws that would deny prisoners at Guantánamo Bay the right to challenge their detentions in federal court.

I learned my respect for American institutions the hard way. When I was growing up as a Uighur in China, there were no independent courts to review the imprisonment and oppression of people who, like me, peacefully opposed the Communists. But I learned my hardest lesson from the United States: I spent four long years behind the razor wire of its prison in Cuba.

I was locked up and mistreated for being in the wrong place at the wrong time during America's war in Afghanistan. Like hundreds of Guantánamo detainees, I was never a terrorist or a soldier. I was never even on a battlefield. Pakistani bounty hunters sold me and 17 other Uighurs to the U.S. military like animals for $5,000 a head. The Americans made a terrible mistake.

It was only America's centuries- old commitment to allowing habeas corpus challenges that put that mistake right - or began to. In May, on the eve of a court hearing in my case, the military relented, and I was sent to Albania along with four other Uighurs. But 12 of my Uighur brothers remain in Guantánamo today. Will they be stranded there forever?

Without my American lawyers and habeas corpus, my situation and that of the other Uighurs would still be a secret. I would be sitting in a metal cage today. Habeas corpus helped me to tell the world that Uighurs are not a threat to the United States or the West, but an ally. Habeas corpus cleared my name - and most important, it let my family know that I was still alive.

Like my fellow Uighurs, I am a great admirer of the American legal and political systems. I have the utmost respect for the U.S. Congress. So I respectfully ask American lawmakers to protect habeas corpus and let justice prevail. Continuing to permit habeas rights to the detainees in Guantánamo will not set the guilty free. It will prove to the world that American democracy is safe and well.

I am from East Turkestan on the northwest edge of China. Communist China cynically calls my homeland "Xinjiang," which means "new dominion" or "new frontier." My people want only to be treated with respect and dignity. But China uses the American war on terrorism as a pretext to punish those who peacefully dissent from its oppressive policies. They brand as "terrorism" all political opposition from the Uighurs.

Amnesty International reports that East Turkistan is the only province in China where people may face the death penalty for political offenses. Chinese leaders brag about the number of Uighur political prisoners shot in the head. I was punished for speaking against China's unjust policies, and I left because of the threat to my life. My search for work and refuge took me from Kyrgyzstan to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

I heard about the Sept. 11 attacks for the first time in Guantánamo. I was not aware of their magnitude until after my release, when a reporter showed me images online at an Internet café in Tirana. It was a terrible thing. But I, too, was its victim. I would never have experienced the ordeal and humiliation of Guantánamo if this horrific event had not taken place.

I feel great sadness for the families who lost their loved ones on that horrible day five years ago. And I would be sadder still to see the freedom-loving American people walk away from their respect for the rule of law. I want America to be a strong and respected nation in the world. Only then can it continue to be the source of hope for the hopeless - like my people.

Abu Bakker Qassim was imprisoned at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, from 2002 until May 2006. This article was translated from the Uighur by Nury Turkel.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Nury A Turkel

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Tale of 5 Muslims:Out of Guantanamo And Into Limbo

Wall Street Journal, Page One

Free and Uneasy

Tale of 5 Muslims:Out of Guantanamo And Into Limbo

Cleared by U.S. of Terror Ties,
They Won't Return Home
Due to Fear of Punishment
China Demands Repatriation

June 2, 2006; Page A1

TIRANA, Albania -- After four years in Guantanamo Bay, Abu Bakker Qassim, a former terror suspect cleared last year of having ties to al Qaeda, got word last month that he finally would be set free.

He and four fellow Muslims from China were loaded onto a U.S. military transport plane in the middle of the night, shackled to the floor and flown for 12 hours to their new home: a converted military barracks in Tirana, the capital of Albania.

The compound is located on a potholed road strewn with garbage. It has high walls, bars on the windows and a guard at the gate. The five men occasionally leave but don't venture far. They've found no one in this small Balkan country who knows their native language, a Turkic tongue spoken by the Uighur (pronounced WEE-gur) people of China.

"I think Allah must be testing our patience," says Mr. Qassim, a 37-year-old father of three from Xinjiang, a historically Muslim region of deserts and mountains in western China. Pointing to strands of rusty barbed wire outside his window, he rolls his eyes. Freedom, he says, "is not what we expected."

The U.S. is also in a predicament it never expected: What should it do with Guantanamo inmates who have been found deserving of release but who face jail or execution if returned to their homelands?

It's a question that has grown urgent in recent weeks as the United Nations and even stalwart ally Britain have turned up the heat on Washington over Guantanamo prison. Critics say the camp stains America's reputation, upends the Geneva Convention governing treatment of prisoners and fuels Muslim anger. Eighty-nine inmates are now staging a hunger strike, drawing further attention to their plight.

Washington's hesitation to repatriate some detainees reflects its growing unease with authoritarian states it initially enlisted as partners in the post-9/11 war on terror. U.S. forces used an air base in Uzbekistan during the war in Afghanistan, but Washington strongly criticized the former Soviet republic last year when Uzbek security forces killed scores of unarmed protesters. Uzbekistan then evicted the U.S. military.

Fear of being sent home is so strong that an exonerated Egyptian detainee, Ala Abdel Maqsud Muhammad Salim, had his U.S. lawyers ask a federal court in January to block his release to avoid his being sent to Egypt, where he expected harm. The U.S. dropped a plan to return the sickly and nearly blind prisoner. He's still in Guantanamo.

Uighurs, formerly U.S. prisoners, are now in Albania. Back row, left to right: Abu Bakker Qassim, Ahtar Qassim, Adel Abdu Al-Hakim. Front row: Ahmet Adil, Ayup Hajimemet.
U.S. officials say they scouted for two years for a country ready to take Mr. Qassim and his companions, beginning the search even before their exoneration. The U.S. was wary of sending them to China. Beijing severely punishes Muslims from the far west who criticize the Communist government or advocate independence. Unwilling to let the men live in the U.S., American officials say they approached more than 100 countries. All said no or waffled, fearful of upsetting China and reluctant to take on America's problem. Then Albania, an impoverished land with a large Muslim populace and a brutal communist past, said yes in April.

Messy Struggle

The decision pushed the country of some 3.5 million into a messy big-power struggle. Soon after the five Uighurs reached Tirana, China accused Washington of hypocrisy for letting them go. Beijing demanded that Albania hand over the men, whom it calls terror suspects. Prime Minister Sali Berisha says he was harangued by China's ambassador. Mr. Berisha says he's glad he gave the five Uighurs a haven, but regrets that it "has become very noisy around here." The Chinese Embassy in Tirana declined to comment.

Guantanamo Bay now holds around 460 detainees. These include four who have been declared "no longer enemy combatants" -- bureaucratic jargon for innocent. About 116 others, though not exonerated, are no longer considered a serious threat or valuable to U.S. intelligence.

Among those who have been cleared but remain at Guantanamo is Zakirjan Hassam, an Uzbek dissident desperate to avoid going back to Uzbekistan. Like China, Uzbekistan rallied early to the "war on terror," viewing it as a vindication of its own harsh measures against restive Muslims.

Before sending detainees home, U.S. officials seek guarantees they will be treated humanely and prevented from causing trouble for America in the future. Those issues have slowed U.S. negotiations with Saudi Arabia over the repatriation of Saudi nationals at Guantanamo, although 15 Saudis there were sent home last month.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has cited such complications in explaining why the Guantanamo prison can't simply be closed. The U.S. is working "almost daily" with foreign governments to reduce the number of prisoners, she has said. On a visit to Britain in April, Ms. Rice said: "We don't want to be the world's jailer."

Guantanamo critics blame the dilemma on the Bush administration's refusal to adopt swift and transparent procedures for judging guilt or innocence. They say lengthy incarceration leaves people with the stigma of terrorism even if they eventually get cleared. Lawyers for Mr. Qassim and other absolved detainees say those who are found innocent should be allowed to settle in America.

"The U.S. made this mistake," says Sabin Willett, a Boston corporate lawyer who early last year volunteered to defend Mr. Qassim and another Uighur detainee. "After four years at the Guantanamo prison, America owes them better than to be swept under an Albanian rug."

Unlike many of the world's Muslims, China's Uighurs often like America. Chafing at rule by Beijing and a flood of ethnic Chinese into their region, many Uighurs look to the U.S. for help. Calls for outright independence from China have faded but anger at police heavy-handedness and restrictions on religious worship have triggered sporadic bouts of unrest.

Mr. Qassim says that before leaving China in 2000 he used to listen to U.S.-funded Radio Free Asia, which broadcasts news in Uighur and other Asian languages. "It was very sad and disappointing to have a country we respect treat us in the way we've been treated," he says.

A native of Yining, a town near China's border with Kazakhstan, he used to work in a state leather factory and as a small-time trader. He ran into trouble after anti-Chinese riots in his hometown in 1997. Mr. Qassim says he didn't take part in the turmoil, which left at least nine dead, but he began to speak out against Chinese rule. Mr. Qassim says he also grew more interested in Islam, and was jailed for seven months on suspicion of anti-Chinese activities.

In 2000 he moved to neighboring Kyrgyzstan, hustling for work in a big bazaar. There he met a fellow Uighur from Yining, Adel Abdu Al-Hakim, now with him in Albania. The two later decided to move to Turkey, hoping to work at a leather-jacket factory run by a ethnic Uighur living there.

With no money for air tickets, they headed overland for Pakistan, where they say they intended to get visas for Iran. Discovering this would take months -- and fearful of staying on in Chinese ally Pakistan -- they opted to wait in Afghanistan.

The two men say they left Pakistan in the summer of 2001 to join some 30 anti-Chinese Uighurs living near the Afghan city of Jalalabad. The U.S. would subsequently describe their settlement as a "training camp."

The Uighurs in Guantanamo strongly denied that description in their tribunals. According to transcripts, each insisted the place was just a cluster of ramshackle buildings. Mr. Qassim says he studied the Quran and occasionally took pot shots with a Kalashnikov rifle, but received no "terrorist" training. Both he and Mr. Abdu Al-Hakim say they had never heard of the Afghan-based Osama bin Laden and had no intention of joining him.

After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Mr. Abdu Al-Hakim heard reports of a likely U.S. attack on Afghanistan from a Uighur who listened to Radio Free Asia. He says he didn't expect any trouble, as the Uighurs had no quarrel with America.

Late at night a few days later, U.S. planes bombed their settlement. Ayup Hajimemet, now 23 and the youngest of the five Uighurs in Albania, says he arrived at the village just as the bombing started. He joined a group of fleeing residents, including Mr. Qassim, and headed for the mountains. They later discovered their destination was called Tora Bora, the focus of a failed U.S. hunt for Mr. bin Laden.

Hungry and frightened, they say they sought shelter in a cave, only to be driven out by wild monkeys throwing stones. "We don't fit in anywhere in the world. Even monkeys don't want us," says Mr. Qassim.

Betrayed by Locals

After some two months of foraging and begging for food, Mr. Qassim and other Uighurs decided to get out of Afghanistan. They made a three-day trek across snow-covered peaks into Pakistan. Upon arriving, they say, local tribesmen gave them a warm welcome -- and then betrayed them.

After a lamb feast, the 18 Uighurs were taken to a mosque, herded into vehicles, driven to a jail and handed over to U.S. forces, who flew them to an American prison in Afghanistan. Mr. Abdu Al-Hakim says the 18 were captured by Pakistani bounty hunters. He overheard people saying the hunters received $5,000 each for the captives from the U.S. A Pentagon spokesman said he couldn't discuss "tactics, techniques and procedures" used to combat terrorism.

After some six months of interrogation in Afghanistan, the 18 Uighurs captured in Pakistan were put on a plane to Guantanamo, their heads hooded, their arms and legs tethered. Upon arrival in Cuba, they say they were each given an orange jumpsuit, a copy of the Quran and an "internment serial number." Mr. Qassim became ISN #283.

China cheered the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, linking it to its own crackdown in Xinjiang. Beijing soon issued a report claiming the Uighur activists were "supported and directed by Osama bin Laden." It named as an al Qaeda affiliate a small Uighur group called the East Turkistan Islamic Movement.

At Guantanamo, much of the interrogation of the Uighurs focused on the movement, which the U.S. in late 2002 declared a terrorist organization. The Uighurs in Guantanamo denied any involvement with the group.

The U.S. let Chinese interrogators interview Mr. Qassim and other Chinese nationals at Guantanamo, according to the men and court documents. Most refused to talk, but they were rattled: Mr. Qassim says the Chinese made veiled threats against their families back in Xinjiang and appeared to have had access to information the Uighurs had given U.S. interrogators. A Pentagon spokesman said the U.S. "works with a variety of nations to try and determine the status of detainees."

Out of 22 Uighurs with Chinese nationality sent to Guantanamo, U.S. officials concluded early on that Mr. Qassim and the four now with him in Albania weren't terrorists. But for reasons that remain unclear, U.S. authorities failed to inform the five Uighurs of that. In early 2004, the Pentagon asked the State Department to start looking for a possible home for them abroad.

Later that year, the Uighurs and hundreds of others got their first chance to formally contest their status as "enemy combatants." This followed a 2004 Supreme Court decision that prompted the Pentagon to set up so-called Combatant Status Review Tribunals. Detainees appeared before the secret panels shackled and without lawyers, but were allowed to defend themselves. Remarks in declassified transcripts suggest the Uighurs' hearings took place in late 2004.

"Treating a person like me this way is not fair," Mr. Qassim told the tribunal, claiming that he opposed China, not America. The U.S., he complained, "was to help young Uighur people, and now they are saying we are the enemy.... We Uighurs have more than one billion enemies and that is enough for us."

Mr. Hajimemet, the young man who reached Afghanistan just as bombs were falling, was the only one of the five Uighurs to learn much English. While in prison, he says, he sometimes lashed out in response to taunts from American guards and to the daily humiliations of "being treated like an animal." He spat at a guard. "Even a donkey kicks back," he says. He wasn't tortured, he says, but on one occasion was thrown against a metal bed, leaving him with a lingering back injury.

The review tribunals set up in 2004 examined 558 cases in all and ruled that 38 detainees should be reclassified as "no longer enemy combatants." Among them were the five Uighurs now in Albania. The 13 other Uighurs who had been seized with them in Pakistan are all still "enemy combatants" and remain in Guantanamo.

In March 2005, Mr. Willett, the Boston lawyer, filed a petition in the U.S. to force the government to bring Mr. Qassim and Mr. Abdu Al-Hakim to court. U.S. officials declined to inform him that his clients already had been cleared. "The whole approach has been to keep Guantanamo a great big secret," says Mr. Willett, a partner at Bingham McCutchen LLP. "In the fog of war, mistakes are made," he adds. "The dishonor comes of hiding them."

Four months later, in July, Mr. Willett got permission to visit Mr. Qassim and Mr. Abdu Al-Hakim in Cuba. The two men were chained to the floor in a tiny plywood hut, the lawyer says. Only at this meeting was he finally told they had been exonerated. Mr. Willett returned to the U.S. and filed an emergency motion demanding their immediate release.

About a month later, Mr. Qassim and the other exonerated Uighurs were moved to less-severe quarters in nearby Camp Iguana. They could walk around without chains and were allowed to watch nature videos. News broadcasts were banned. Mr. Willett requested permission to send a Uighur-English dictionary and other language materials but was told this was forbidden. Defense Department rules bar inmates from developing any skill, even English, that might be used against the U.S.

At a U.S. court hearing last August on Mr. Willett's call for the prisoners' release, a federal judge denounced the term "no longer enemy combatant" as "Kafkaesque." When assured by a government lawyer that the case would be resolved "soon," the judge snapped, "Define soon." In a December ruling, he declared the continued detention of Mr. Qassim and Mr. Abdu Al-Hakim was "unlawful" but said he couldn't order the release of the innocent men because this would involve immigration issues outside of his purview.

Mr. Willett appealed, and a hearing was set for May 8. With the legal pressure mounting, the government stepped up previously fruitless efforts to find the Uighurs a home. U.S. officials at one time considered letting the Uighurs into America, but that option was rejected "at a senior policy level" out of concerns over possible litigation and security, says a senior State Department official.

Sending the Uighurs back to China was never an option, say U.S. officials. The State Department's annual report on global human rights, released in March, concluded that China had "used counter-terrorism as an excuse for religious repression of Uighur Muslims." It also reported that a Uighur sent back to China from Nepal against his will had been executed. The State Department's latest report on global terrorism, issued in April, now lists the East Turkistan Islamic Movement as a group of "concern."

Albania was first approached about taking the Uighurs late last year, and initially balked. In April, the U.S. ambassador to Tirana went to see Prime Minister Berisha. Mr. Berisha had assisted the U.S. in the 1990s, helping the Central Intelligence Agency hunt down alleged Islamic militants in Albania. The militants were later expelled to Egypt and, in two cases, hanged. Albania was also seeking U.S. backing to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Mr. Berisha says he told the ambassador that Albania would take the Uighurs as a "favor to a friend," so long as America was sure they weren't terrorists. The U.S. agreed to cover the costs of their resettlement. Albania, he says, owes a lot to America, most recently for its 1999 military intervention in Kosovo, populated largely by ethnic Albanians.

China, which under Mao Zedong was a close ally of Albania, heard of the plan and was livid. A scheduled visit in May to Beijing by Albania's foreign minister was called off.

Three days before the May 8 U.S. court hearing on the Uighurs, Mr. Qassim and the four others were bundled onto the transport plane. Though told they were going to Albania, they were terrified the flight might end in China. Mr. Qassim says he calmed down only when the door of the plane opened and he saw European faces.

'Pay Any Price'

Local newspapers splashed their arrival across the front pages. The opposition blasted the government for upsetting China. Two days after the Uighurs landed, Prime Minister Berisha met with Vice President Dick Cheney in Croatia at a gathering of three countries hoping to join NATO. The prime minister said Albania was ready to "pay any price" to join the alliance. Mr. Cheney said he endorsed the entry of Albania, Croatia and Macedonia.

In Tirana last week, Mr. Berisha said he was baffled that so many major nations declined to take the Uighurs, including the U.S. itself and the European countries that call for Guantanamo's closure. "Big countries don't like to deal with small problems," he said.

Mr. Qassim and his companions, meanwhile, have shaved off the long beards they had grown in jail to fit in with zealously devout Arab inmates. They now have a driver to take them around Tirana, and have found a Turkish restaurant where Turkish-speaking waiters can just about make out their orders. China's official news agency, Xinhua, says the five men are "faring poorer than rats crossing the street."

On a visit last week to an Internet cafe, the five men searched for news about their case in their native tongue. Then they watched footage from the 9/11 attacks in New York. They'd never seen the images of hijacked planes flying into the World Trade Center before, and they wanted to know what got America so angry.

Mr. Qassim groaned as he saw the jets slam into the towers. "This is awful, really awful," he said. "If this hadn't happened, we would never have gone to Guantanamo."

Write to Andrew Higgins at andrew.higgins@wsj.com1

URL for this article:

Hyperlinks in this Article: