US’ role in keeping GITMO-two in Ghana questioned following aid threat

Director of Academic Affairs at the Ghana Armed Forces Command & Staff College is asking Ghanaians not to panic over calls that aid should be cut to Ghana if the two ex-Guantanamo Bay detainees in Ghana escape.

According to Dr Vladimir Antwi-Danso, unless the tenets of agreement for accepting the two said so, “I don’t see why we should panic.”

The two former GITMO detainees Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih Al-Dhuby were detained for 14 years and were transferred to Ghana on 6th January 2016 without being convicted of any terrorism act.

Four Republican Senators have called on the Senate Appropriations Committee to cut foreign aid to Ghana by 10bmillion dollars each for the two if they flee Ghana.

But Dr. Antwi-Danso told Martin Asiedu-Dartey on TV3 Midday Live Friday that the threat amounts to “injustice to international law”.

He however conceded that the call may have been influenced by the fact that some detainees sent to other countries “vanished”, necessitating the need to tighten security on those in Ghana. “For every prisoner the dream is to run away,” he pointed out.        

He said if the threat to cut aid was a clause in the conditions the country agreed with the US, then the Ghanaian government must be made to answer for that.

The international relations expert also questioned the specific role being played by the US government to “ensure that these ones don’t run away”.

Dr Antwi-Danso expressed surprised that whilst Ghana is helping find a place for the ex-detainees, the US would rather turn and threaten Ghana.

READ ALSO:  Nat’l Security visited Guantanamo several times over the 2 ex-detainees – Mahama

Below is the Senators’ full letter:

Dear Chairman Cochran and Chairman Graham:

We are concerned about the Administration’s transfer of two Guantanamo terrorist detainees to Ghana on January 6, 2016, and the Ghanaian government’s capacity to hold, monitor, and ensure these terrorist detainees do not reengage in terrorism against the United States and our allies.

As you know the Administration transferred Yemeni detainees Mahmoud Omar Mohammed Bin Atef, a Taliban fighter and member of Osama bin Laden’s “55th Brigade” who threatened to cut the throats of American guards and their families upon release, and Khalid Mohammed Salih al Dhuby, an al Qaeda fighter in Afghanistan who reportedly threatened to kill guards at Guantanamo Bay, to Ghana after President John Dramani Mahama agreed to host them for two years.

While the Administration’s own Guantanamo task force neither cleared Atef and Dhuby of their involvement in terrorism nor recommend them for outright release, U.S. Embassy in Ghana spokesman Daniel Fennell inexplicably told Ghanaian media the “current assessment is that these two people coming to Ghana do not pose a security threat.”

President Mahama, who also maintains these terrorist detainees pose no threat, asserts they are housed safely on a security compound.

The security procedures for the terrorist detainees’ compound remain unclear, however.

What is clear is Ghana’s Foreign Ministry says their nation will accept the terrorist detainees “for a period of two years, after which they may leave the country.”

While Ghana has not previously held terrorist detainees, the nation’s prison system provides an illustrative indicator of the country’s limitations in credibly detaining and monitoring these hardened terrorists.

READ ALSO:  Police foil robbery, shoot suspects

The prison system is plagued by decay and mismanagement.

The majority of Ghana’s prison facilities were constructed during the colonial era and lack the modern infrastructure required to hold inmates.

According to one third-party study, the country’s prison system operates at 145 percent capacity nationally, with some prisons operating up to 300 percent over capacity.

In recent years, 30 or more prisoners have escaped from Ghana’s prisons annually.

It is clear no facility in the world, let alone in Ghana, could detain terrorists as securely as Guantanamo.

We are grateful for Ghana’s friendship and the strong bilateral relationship between our two countries.

As members of the Senate Appropriations Committee, we have consistently voted to support foreign assistance to Ghana.

However, with the U.S. Intelligence Community in agreement that 30 percent of the terrorists released from Guantanamo are known or suspected to have re-joined the fight against Americans, it is reckless to release more of these prisoners, particularly when the ability of the host country to hold and monitor these detainees is in doubt.

We therefore request the Committee to include in the fiscal year 2017 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs appropriations bill, language that would reduce assistance to Ghana by $10 million per detainee in the event either of these detainees escapes from confinement or reengages in terrorism while in Ghana’s custody.

Such language would incentivize Ghanaian authorities to allocate appropriate resources to closely and securely monitor the activities of these terrorist detainees.

Thank you for your leadership of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs.

READ ALSO:  A/R: Muslims observe Jummah amid safety measures including ambulance

We appreciate your consideration of our request.