Uruguay’s Gitmo Ex-Prisoners Split After ‘Political Dispute’ and Fail to Get Jobs

AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

The nation of Uruguay is struggling to properly integrate the six former Guantánamo Bay prisoners they accepted from the United States into society. Two of the men were forced into hotel housing after a heated “political and religious dispute,” while a third has traveled to Argentina to demand that the Southern Cone nation take in more prisoners from Gitmo.

None of the prisoners have taken employment, despite receiving job offers, and most have dropped Spanish language classes, which render them nearly unemployable in the Latin American nation.

These developments come from local Uruguayan publication Búsqueda, which notes that the government fears that the world will become privy to the difficulty of accepting these prisoners and the public relations victory the nation won upon announcing their immigration to Uruguay will have been lost. The two prisoners removed from the residence that all six share are Abdul Bin Mohammed Ourgy and Mohammed Tahamatan, of Tunisian and Palestinian descent, the report notes. One of them has already been allowed to return to the compound. Neighbors remain concerned that they will have another heated political confrontation, however.

Several social work sources told the publication that the reality of the former Gitmo prisoners “does not coincide with the image that the government has provided.” In particular, one official told the paper that the government is especially concerned regarding “difficulties in cementing their insertion into the workforce.”

Despite the concerning behavior of the six in Uruguay, one of the residents, Jihad Ahmad Diyab, traveled to Argentina this week to demand that Argentina take in Guantánamo Bay prisoners, just as Uruguay did. In making his first press appearance, Diyab asserted that the ex-prisoners are “innocent victims in Guantánamo of the aggressive politics of the United States,” and attacked President Obama for “worsening” the situation within the Gitmo prison system itself by continuing to promise freedom to those inside without providing it. “Allah is just and one cannot forget that justice is the rule of all. Islam is tolerance, peace, and justice,” he said.

Unlike the other prisoners, who have no ties to Latin America, Diyab’s mother is of Argentine descent.

The Uruguayan government’s decision to take in a large influx of Middle Eastern immigrants– both the ex-Guantánamo Bay prisoners and civilian refugees from the Syrian Civil War– has begun to generate a significant amount of bad publicity for the nation. In addition to the disputes among the ex-Gitmo detainees, the government announced this week that it would no longer take in male Syrian refugees due to the high rate of domestic violence incidents within the Syrian refugee community. In addition, Uruguay is conducting an investigation into the attempted bombing of the Israeli embassy in its capital, Montevideo, which investigators believe was planned by an Iranian diplomat who fled the nation the day after authorities found the bomb.


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