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Uighurs Released to Bermuda All Trained at Terrorist Camp in Tora Bora

11:38 AM, Jun 11, 2009 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
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ETIM-video-1.JPGA Uighur terrorist from a videotape
by the Turkistan Islamic Party.

It turns out Palau is not the only resort island willing to take the Uighurs detained at Guantanamo. The Obama administration has transferred four Uighurs to Bermuda, which is, of course, much closer to the continental U.S. than Palau. Understandably, the Obama administration has placed travel restrictions on the Uighurs. ABC News reports that they are not allowed to travel to the U.S. without prior consent.

This alone is somewhat of a reversal by the administration, since it was reportedly considering freeing some of the Uighur detainees in the U.S. at one point. One wonders what our European allies will think, too. Leading European nations were only willing to consider taking detainees, including the Uighurs, if the administration showed a willingness to release them on U.S. soil. While the administration has found a home for the Uighurs, it fails to satisfy the quid pro quo conditions that our allies have demanded. Keep an eye out for Europe's reaction to this news, and whether attitudes across the pond evolve. The reaction of European politicians could very well be: If the Obama administration won't even allow former detainees to travel to the U.S., then why should we free them in our own nations?

So, who are Bermuda's new residents? And why would the Obama administration place travel restrictions on them?

All four of them are members or associates of the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement (otherwise known as the Turkistan Islamic Party). The ETIM/TIP is a U.S. and UN designated terrorist organization affiliated with al Qaeda and has attacked civilians in China, as well as reportedly plotted against other targets elsewhere, including the U.S. embassy in Kyrgyzstan. According to the State Department, ETIM/TIP members have also fought alongside the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan. And last year the organization threatened to attack the Olympic Games in China.

The four Uighurs attempted to deny any relationship with the ETIM/TIP, the Taliban, and al Qaeda during their CSRTs. But their denials are not credible. In the context of their denials they made important admissions.

For example, all four of the Uighurs admitted during their combatant status review tribunals (CSRTs) at Gitmo that they received training in the Taliban's Afghanistan. And all four of them received this training at an ETIM/TIP terrorist training facility in Tora Bora, a key area once controlled by the Taliban and al Qaeda.

Three of the four Uighurs transferred to Bermuda also admitted that they had firsthand ties to senior terrorists such as Hassan Mahsum and Abdul Haq - the leaders of the ETIM/TIP. Haq was recently designated an al Qaeda terrorist by the Obama administration's Treasury Department, which noted that he is also a member of al Qaeda's elite Shura council. Mahsum was killed in a Taliban and al Qaeda stronghold in northern Pakistan in 2003.

During his CSRT testimony, Hozaifa Parhat, one of four Uighurs transferred to Bermuda, had the following exchange with one of his tribunal members.

"Tribunal Member: There is an important gentleman in the Uighur community by the name of Hassan Mahsum; do you know who this man is?

Parhat: Yes. I saw that person.

Tribunal Member: Who is he, please?

Parhat: He is a Turkistani person. [Note: As the DOD transcript notes, the Uighurs frequently refer to themselves as "Turkistani."]

Tribunal Member: Is he the leader of your Uighur group?

Parhat: Yes.

Tribunal Member: Would he give the Uighurs in the camp guidance and instruction on what to do?

Parhat: Maybe he would do that and there was another person and he was the leader of the camp guiding all the people. I saw this person twice at the camp. I forgot the leader name.

Tribunal Member: Would that be Mr. Abdul Haq?

Parhat: Yes.

Tribunal Member: We heard this name from the other Uighur people.

Parhat: I told that to the interrogators."