The Enemy of Our Enemy Is Our . . . Enemy?
Saddiq Ahmad Turkistani was freed from a Taliban prison in the early days of the Afghan war. He'd been wrongly imprisoned, he told reporters--though he had indeed helped hatch a plot to kill Osama Bin Laden. He despised the Taliban and al Qaeda, and was an eager supporter of the U.S. war on terror.
There was some initial talk with UN officials about perhaps relocating to Pakistan, but soon enough the U.S. military had the situation well in hand. As Robin Wright and Josh White report in today WaPo, Turkistani "was taken to a U.S military base in Afghanistan, where he was stripped, bound and thrown behind bars. U.S. officials then strapped him into an airplane, fitted him with dark goggles and sent him to the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in January 2002, according to U.S. lawyers who represent him." And there he sits unto this day, since even though he has been cleared of any suspicion of terrorist activity, the U.S. can't figure out where he should be released to--or for that matter, it seems, why they have him detained in the first place:
It remains a mystery why Turkistani was sent to Guantanamo Bay at all. Some officials and his lawyers speculate that he has been held by mistake. Or, they say, some officials may have believed he had intelligence value because bin Laden accused him of trying to plot his killing in 1998. U.S. officials have offered no public explanation.
Like a group of five Chinese Uighurs (pronounced wee-gurs) , Turkistani remains incarcerated because the United States simply does not know what to do with him. He does not have Saudi citizenship, and U.S. officials are having trouble getting his home country to take him back. U.S. officials do not want to send him to China, where Uighurs are seeking a separate homeland, saying he is likely to be tortured.
Turkistani's detainers have certainly cleared up one thing, though, according to one of his lawyers, Susan Baker Manning: "The enemy took away his life for 4 1/2 years, and we reward him for that by taking away his life for another four years. He clearly opposed al Qaeda and the Taliban, and he still feels that way. He's not a huge fan of the U.S. anymore."
Clearly, we needed to do a better job of explaining to him we were just staying the course. -- HOLLY MARTINS