September 20, 2018

Kenyan detained at Guantanamo bay prison hopeful for release

Mohamed Abdul Malik Bajabu detained at Guatanamo Bay Prison in Cuba. [www. nairobinews.nation.co.ke]

Mohamed Abdul Malik Bajabu, a Kenyan held at an American military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for nearly 10 years for terrorism links is optimistic he will return home.

Bajabu last year in November wrote a four-page letter to his sister Mwajuma Rajab Abdalla telling her he is hopeful of being released according to the Star.

The letter reached his elder sister just a few weeks ago, after the death of his father who was ailing from cancer.

In the letter which is written in Swahili, he told his sister not to worry because his troubles are a passing cloud.

“No man is perfect… (and) this is just a test and it too shall pass; one day at a time,” part of the letter reads as quoted by Daily Nation.

Bajabu was arrested Anti-Terrorism Police Unit in February 2007 over his alleged involvement in terror attacks including the 2002 raid on an Israeli hotel in Kikambala, Kilifi where scores were killed.

Mwajuma said that police had also linked him to a planned terror attack World Cross Country Championships in Mombasa in 2007.

He also rumored to be a member of outlawed global terrorists network, ISIS, Kenyan cell.

Kenyan authorities flew him to Guantanamo Bay in March 2007.

His status at the Guantanamo Bay Prison is “forever prisoners” meaning he is being held indefinitely without charge or trial.

His only way out is to be cleared for release by the Periodic Review Board (PRB) which is the military equivalent of a parole hearing.

For him to qualify to appear before the Board, the prisoners are expected to exhibit good behavior, do not hold extremists views and more important, that they will have family or community support coupled with employment prospects.

In his submission to PRB in June last year, Bajabu said: “While here in detention, I continue to read and learn about farming and honey harvesting. I am a hardworking man and I am confident that I can run a farm and support my family upon my release.”

He added: “I am a peaceful man. I pose no threat to the United States or anyone. I am a moderate Muslim and do not believe in violence. My hope is to live in a peaceful society where I can rejoin my wife and family and raise my children.

He also said he would like to be repatriated to the Middle East.

Mwajuma said US officials have in the past asked her if she would take her brother back and ensure he does not engage in criminal activities but nothing much has come out of the talks.

She questioned why Kenya has not taken back its prisoners from Guantanamo bay Prison following talks by former US President Barrack Obama that the prison would be shut down.

“Most countries have taken their prisoners. Why can’t Kenya bring him back?”

By January 2017, the prison had 40 inmates only.

Bajabu’s private counsel who works for human rights group Reprieve Shelby Sullivan-Bennis said it has been hard to clear even harmless inmates since Donald Trump came into office.

“Since Trump’s inauguration, detainees at GTMO have been refused clearance by the Periodic Review Board, even when they are harmless — the standards for clearance sometimes seem impossibly high,” she said.

Bajabu speaks to his family through skype every three months.

“We normally talk through Skype every three months. Last time, he told me not to worry about him. That he is concerned about my security. He said if he died on US soil, that would be his fate,” Mawajuma quipped.

Every time they skype, she added, her brother is always in chains. Recently though, he appeared with just one chain-a sign of his release unlike in the past when he appeared with three chains.

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