Audacity of hope for Kenyan at Guantanamo detention centre
7 months ago, 17 Mar 22:00
A Kenyan held at an American military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for nearly 10 years on terrorism charges is hopeful of returning home. In a November 17, 2017 letter, Mr Mohamed Abdul Malik Bajabu tells his eldest sister Mwajuma Rajab Abdalla to be optimistic of his acquittal. The four-page handwritten letter seen by the Sunday Nation, reached Kenya a few weeks ago, nearly five months after the family's patriarch died of cancer. ATTACKS No man is perfect... (and) this is just a test and it too shall pass; one day at a time,” Mr Bajabu tells his sister in in broken Kiswahili. Ms Abdalla, Bajabu's mastery of Kiswahili has deteriorated as he normally converses in English or Arabic while in prison. He was arrested by the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit in February 2007 after being linked to several attacks, including the 2002 raid on an Israeli hotel in Kikambala, Kilifi, where more than 10 people died. NO TRIAL Police also linked Mr Bajabu to plans to attack a World Cross Country Championships in Mombasa in 2007, said his sister. He was also suspected of bieng a member of the banned Islamic Party of Kenya. In March 2007, Kenyan authorities flew him to Guantanamo Bay. But Mr Bajabu, a father of three, is now one of the “forever prisoners” at the detention centre, meaning he is being held indefinitely without charge or trial. WELL-BEHAVED In recent years, the only way out for these prisoners is to be “cleared for release” by the Periodic Review Board (PRB), the military equivalent of a parole hearing. The prisoners are expected to show they are well-behaved, that they do not hold extremist views, that they will have family or community support, and that they have employment prospects. MODERATE In his last appearance before the PRB in June 2017, Mr 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 also told the board, which comprises the heads of the US security agencies, that he would like to be repatriated to the Middle East. “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 said. CAMPAIGNS Ms Abdallah said US officials have previously asked her whether she could take care of him if he was returned home and ensured he did not engage in criminal activities, "but nothing tangible came out of the talks". She said the family always follows international news to know if the prison would be shut as had been indicated. “Most countries have taken their prisoners. Why can’t Kenya bring him back?” she asked. During his successful campaigns for the White House in 2008, Mr ...
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