Former Guantánamo Bay detainee Jihad Ahmad Diyab’s fourth attempt to escape Uruguay and return to his native Middle East has failed after Morocco deported him this week for using a falsified passport.
Diyab was arrested in Afghanistan in 2002 and spent more than a decade detained in Gitmo until President Barack Obama brokered a deal with the then-leftist government of Uruguay in 2014 to take in six detainees. He has previously stated that he supports al-Qaeda and has no desire to stay in Uruguay, rejecting Spanish lessons or help with finding work.
Uruguay’s National Police chief Mario Layera told the Russian state outlet Sputnik that Interpol helped transfer Diyab from Morocco to Brazil to Uruguay. “He himself told Uruguayan authorities that he was planning to reunite with family in Turkey, traveling to Morocco with a fake Tunisian passport, refusing to testify regarding his departure from Uruguay,” Layera explained.
According to the Uruguayan newspaper La República, Diyab has attempted to flee four times, despite the fact that his release from Guantánamo was contingent upon him staying in Uruguay. He had initially attempted to fly to Johannesburg, South Africa, then bought a plane ticket to Russia he was prevented from using at the airport.
In 2016, Diyab traveled to the Uruguayan border with Brazil, claiming to have left the capital, Montevideo, to observe the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. He subsequently disappeared for a month, traveling across the Brazilian border.
Police eventually found him in Venezuela, where he entered the Uruguayan embassy demanding to be flown anywhere but Uruguay, expressing a preference for Turkey as his Syrian family lives there. “He expressed clearly that in no case was he interested in returning to Uruguay, but required the assistance of our country for his proposal,” the Uruguayan Foreign Ministry confirmed in a statement.
Despite Venezuela’s known ties to Islamist governments like Iran, no evidence surfaced that Diyab had engaged Muslim officials in Venezuela, unlikely in any case due to the fact that Diyab is a Sunni Muslim, while Venezuela maintains ties to Shiite global leaders.
Diyab has consistently denied ties to jihadist groups, despite his arrest in Afghanistan for ties to “Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LT), Ansar al-Islam, Harakat al-Mujahidin (HUM), and Harakat ul-Jihad-i-Islami (HUJI),” according to the U.S. government. Following his release, however, he told reporters, “I like al-Qaeda now.”
Following his detention in Venezuela, the Uruguayan revoked visas they had offered to his family members to visit the country and live with their relative. Diyab then reportedly began a “hunger strike” in which he continued to eat grains and drink liquids but still demanded to be returned to the Middle East.
While Diyab has been the most vocally opposed to his transfer to Uruguay of the six detainees living there – despite being the only one with Latin American heritage from his Argentine mother – all six have caused major problems for the small South American nation.
Within two months of the transfer, most of the men had dropped their Spanish classes and rejected all job offers. “Religious disputes” caused loud disturbances in the home that the men shared, paid for by the Uruguayan taxpayer, startling neighbors. Two of the men married local women; both were arrested for domestic abuse.