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17 ex-Gitmo detainees freed

The Nation (Pakistan)
By Our Staff Reporter
June 28, 2005

LAHORE - The government has freed 17 former prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, who were detained on their return home to Pakistan, from Kot Lakhpat Jail here on Monday. They were finally freed after promising not to take part in militant activities, officials said.

Most of the freed, alleged that they had personally witnessed the desecration of the Holy Quran at the US jail. The officials believed that the men had been released on the orders of President Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

“We have released 17 prisoners after their parents and guardians furnished guarantees that in future they would not indulge in terrorist activities,” said Tahir Ashrafi, Advisor to the Punjab government on religious affairs.

Asharfi said that the said men were arrested from Afghanistan four years back and then shifted to Guantanamo Bay for further interrogation.

The men were brought back to Pakistan around nine months ago after being cleared by US authorities and included Khalil-ur-Rehman, Salahuddin Ayyubi, Mohammad Irfan, Hafiz Khalil, Abdul Sattar Nafeesi, Bashir Ahmed, Abdul Sattar, Hafiz Ahsan Saeed, Zafar Iqbal, Haseeb Ayyub, Munir Ahmed, Mohammad Arshad, Mohammad Hanif, Mohammad Ashraf, Ijaz Ahmed, Sultan Ahmed, and Dr Sarfraz Ahmed.

“American soldiers having nefarious designs against Muslim Ummah, have been committing desecration of the holy Quran at Guantanamo,” Salahuddin Ayyubi, 32, told reporters as he came out from the Kot Lakhpat.

He said that the US soldiers had been committing various shameful incidents that even could not be narrated in words before the Muslims. “ Once we saw them throw the Holy Quran in a bucket full of urine,” he said.

Another freed prisoner, Hafiz Ahsan Saeed said he was arrested four years ago in Afghanistan on charges of having links with the Al-Qaeda terror network. He was kept in a jail run by brutal Afghan warlord Abdul Rashid Dostam and then shifted to Guantanamo.

“The Americans declared me innocent after proper interrogation but yet I have been in prison for about nine months in Rawalpindi and Lahore after being released from Guantanamo Bay,” he said. He said that officials of the intelligence agencies in Pakistan also interrogated him and found him innocent and now he is at long last being set free.

The freed men were of the view that they were not ashamed because they had not done any wrong act, though they had to suffer a lot.

Another freed prisoner, 25-year-old Abdul Sattar Nafeesi, said he was tortured and his beard was forcibly shaved by the US troops at the military jail in Cuba.

“The Americans removed our beards and have been spitting over the holy Book,” he said while talking to a group of journalists. The inmates at Guantanamo Bay protested at the abuse of the holy Book and went on hunger strikes, he said.

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