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Guantanamo inmates transferred to Ghana want to ‘live normally’

Two Yemeni men transferred from Guantanamo Bay to Ghana are looking to rebuild their lives and are not out to avenge their detention, they said in an interview broadcast late Monday.

“We have been wrongly arrested for 14 years without any charge against us,” one of the men, Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef, told public radio station Uniiq FM.

“We have suffered but we are not looking for revenge,” he added.

The Pentagon on Washington announced the transfer of Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih al-Dhuby on January 6 and maintained they did not pose a threat but would still be monitored.

Nevertheless, there has been some public opposition in Ghana to the men’s arrival on security grounds.

The United States had claimed Dhuby, who lived in Saudi Arabia, was a “probable” member of Al-Qaeda and received training in Afghanistan to target coalition forces.

Atef was allegedly a Taliban member and fought under Osama bin Laden’s 55th Arab Brigade, also against NATO forces, according to their leaked case files published in the New York Times.

The two men, however, said Ghanaians had nothing to fear.

“We are not part of any group, for example Al-Qaeda, or other things. We don’t belong to any of them,” Atef said.

“We are healed. We want to live very normal lives. Allah bless you and the people of Ghana.”

President John Dramani Mahama also said the men were considered “the lowest risk” inmates of the facility and that a comprehensive appraisal was conducted when they received Washington’s request.

He also rejected claims as “absolutely untrue” that Ghana collected $300 million (326 million euros) for accepting to take in the men.

“There is no monetary consideration and the US itself would have disclosed if there was any monetary consideration,” he told a news conference in Accra.

The two men said they were big fans of Ghana footballer Asamoah Gyan and many of the detainees at the US-run camp in Cuba supported the Black Stars at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

“When Ghana beat America, we were very happy. We made some celebrations. We also told the guards that we’ve won,” said Atef.

Ghana beat the United States 2-1, with Gyan scoring an extra-time winner, sending the Africans through to the quarter-finals.

US President Barack Obama pledged to shut the controversial Guantanamo facility when he took office in 2009 but as he nears the end of his second term of office, the camp remains open.

Atef and Dhuby were among 17 detainees deemed low-risk that Defense Secretary Ashton Carter approved for transfer last month.

 

– AFP

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