The tropical Pacific island nation of Palau announced Wednesday it will accept up to 17 Chinese Muslims who have languished in legal limbo at Guantanamo Bay despite a Pentagon determination that they are not "enemy combatants."Since they are no longer considered enemy combatants, they're not going to be locked up. In fact they are going to be allowed to start a new life, perhaps as dive instructors.
China's Foreign Ministry had no immediate reaction to the decision by Palau to grant Washington's request to resettle the detainees from China's Uighur minority who had been incarcerated at the U.S. Navy base in Cuba. Palau is one of a handful of countries that does not recognize China and maintains diplomatic relations with Taiwan.
President Johnson Toribiong said Palau was accepting the detainees "as a humanitarian gesture" intended to help them restart their lives. His archipelago, with a population of about 20,000, will accept up to 17 of the detainees subject to periodic review, Toribiong said in a statement released to The Associated Press.What does Palau get out of this? Cold. Hard. Cash.
Two U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the U.S. was prepared to give Palau up to $200 million in development, budget support and other assistance in return for accepting the Uighurs and as part of a mutual defense and cooperation treaty that is due to be renegotiated this year.That is just under $12 million per terrorist (I used my calculator, not Dr. Dela Cruz's). Hell, can the United States send me a terrorist? I think I could help him restart his life with that kind of money.
The New York Times adds:
Palau is known more for its tropical scenery and scuba diving than for its involvement in international politics.With only 20,000 residents, now they'll also be known for the highest percentage of suspected terrorists per capita!
So what did these guys do that got them locked up for a decade with no trial? According to CNN:
The 17 Uighurs -- members of an ethnic Muslim group from western China -- are accused of receiving weapons and military training in Afghanistan.Alright, that sounds bad. Maybe they are terrorists. Except...
Some of the prisoners have been cleared for release since 2003, but the United States will not send them back to their homeland because of concern they would be tortured by Chinese authorities.How much does that suck?
The men have been in legal limbo as a federal court has ordered them released, but an appeals court halted the order. The Justice Department had no comment Tuesday on the fate of the Uighurs.
Albania accepted five Uighur prisoners in 2006, but has refused to allow any more in the country. Human rights activists say that European nation is concerned about economic and diplomatic retaliation from China. The Chinese government has said no returned Uighurs would be tortured, but warned other countries in January against taking the men.
"Uh, I'm sorry sir, we've found you not guilty but you are going to have to stay in jail for the next 6 years because China wants you dead."