Gitmo prisoners are time bombs, Ghana bishops say

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( – In reference to two former Guantanamo Bay prisoners who were transferred to Ghana in West Africa, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference there said it was a “wrong and dangerous” decision, that the two men were “not refugees but time-bombs” who clearly “pose a threat,” and that the government should send them “back to wherever they came from.”

In a statement with the headline, “Accepting Former Guantanamo Bay Prisoners in Ghana: Wrong and Dangerous,” the Bishops’ Conference noted that the ex-Gitmo prisoner Mahmoud Omar Mohammed Bin Atef used to fight for Osama bin Laden, and the other ex-prisoner, Khalid Shayk Mohammed, had trained with Al Qaeda.

The bishops called on the Ghana government “to act responsibly and in the interest of the nation by sending these men back to wherever they came from.” (Their statement is posted at the Ghanaian news website Citifmonline.)

The bishops also asked the government to answer several questions about the ex-prisoners, including “Does their presence not constitute or pose a danger to us?”

They further asked, “If indeed these two persons are harmless and if they have been ‘cleared’ of any terrorist act by the U.S. Government, as our Government and the U.S. Government and some others want us to believe, why were they not sent back to Yemen or Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan where they come from, or taken to the USA which found them harmless?”

“Ghana has been open to receiving refugees in the past but these two men are not in this category,” said the Catholic Bishops’ Conference.  “We think that they are not refugees but time-bombs and so Government should do all it can to send them back as soon as practicable.”

The government should not “risk the security of our land by hosting two former terrorists,” said the bishops in their statement.  “This is why we think sincerely and honestly that to have two ex-prisoners of very dangerous backgrounds walking freely on our land is a wrong move and wish to call on Government to repatriate them as soon as practicable.”

In conclusion, the Bishops’ Conference called on the Ghana parliament, religious leaders, and the media to advise the government to send the ex-Gitmo prisoners back. “We expect our Government to heed our humble call, if it is indeed a listening Government,” said the bishops in their statement, which was signed by the Most Rev. Joseph Osei-Bonsu, the president of the conference.

Mahmoud Omar Mohammed Bin Atef, 36, is a citizen of Yemen, who was born in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. He was imprisoned at Gitmo in 2002 and released into Ghana on Jan. 7, 2016. Khalid Shayk Mohammed, 34 – not the architect of the 9/11 atatcks — lived in Saudi Arabia and has claimed Yemeni citizenship.

The statement by the Bishops’ Conference is posted at the Ghanaian news website Citifmonline.

— Written by Michael W. Chapman