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Opinions of Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Columnist: Office of Shia National Imam

Shittes reject the `sudden`transfer of ex-gitmo detinees to Ghana



The Office of Shia National Imam, Ghana hereby uses this medium to condemn in no uncertain terms the sudden transfer of Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih Al-Dhuby to Ghana. Since, these Muslim brothers have ideologically and militarily undergone training with Taliban Al-Qaeda, their existence in Ghana irrespective of the time limit may give rise to extremism and create a fertile ground for terrorists` in our peaceful country.

As Ghanaians, there are no obscure or mysterious domestic and foreign policy issue that we have only to accept without being allowed to subject them to a critical level of questioning. Much as it’s an important necessity for Ghana to compassionately host and accommodate refugees, migrants and detainees, we believe the `sudden` transfer of the two al-Qaeda members raises serious questions for all thinking people.
The West African sub-region appears to be in a scare mongering time owing to the increasing sophistication and better coordination by sub-national organizations and individuals who frown upon secularism and want to overthrow governments, introduce socio-political and religious change through suicide bombing, crucifixion and killing of the vulnerable in the name of religion. These misguided acts and wanton disregard for human life have, to the largest extent, changed the perception of the world about religion, especially Islam and Muslims of late.
Ghana will soon be at a cross road as a result of the impending 2016 parliamentary and presidential election which normally create a tense atmosphere in the country. Since these individuals do not speak any of our local languages, they are neither of a single Ghanaian skin color nor nationality we think the best place for them would have been any of the Arab Republics, or any of the European countries who are strong allies of the US with better capabilities and resources to handle them.
Congress had voted and outlawed the Gitmo detainees from staying in the United States, the US Embassy Public Affairs Head Danniel Fennel failed to comment on the classified 2007 US intelligence report which described bin Atef and al-Dhouby as `dangerous`, he also admitted that the US could not guarantee Ghanaians 100% as to whether Bin Atef and al-Dhouby will be dangerous or not. All these ambiguities are grim reminders of the high level of threats these individuals may pose to our national security and the need for our political and religious leaders, commentators and the media to put these issues in their proper context devoid of propaganda and prejudice. The fact that these people had only five months orientation with al-Qaeda is not a basis for they being low-level operatives. For an hour`s ideological and military training from a terrorist organization is enough to deepen and consolidate their belligerent posture which may take years to DE- radicalize them. For instance, Abdel Hamid Abaoud who is said to have masterminded the November 2015 terrorists’ attacks in Paris was compassionately allowed to enter the EU as a refugee. Other reports also indicate that Abubakar al-Baghdadi was arrested by US forces and detained at the Bucca detention Camp in Iraq, he was later released as a `low-level prisoner` who later became the leader of a global jihadi movement called ISIL-ISIS.

Whilst we respect the humble appeal of his Eminence the National Chief Imam Sheikh Dr. Uthman Nuhu Sharubtu to accept the two on humanitarian grounds, the Shiite Muslim community in Ghana strongly reject the transfer of these individuals from the Guantanamo to the democratic Republic of Ghana. We call on his Excellency President John Dramani Mahama to repatriate or relocate them to a conducive environment where they can freely and conveniently interact.
With the commencement of the New Year, we express hope that the peace, humility, piety, forgiveness, unity and solidarity among Muslim communities and nations would be further consolidated by adhering to Islamic teachings and guidelines of Prophet Muhammad(s) and his household(as). We also urge Muslims to continue closely working for the sake of furthering and strengthening the unity, tolerance, friendly relations and cooperation existing between Muslims, Christians and members of other religious denominations in the country.

Office of Shia National Imam, Ghana(OSNIG).