Friday, April 19, 2024

Government assures that former Guantanamo Bay detainee Majid Khan poses no threat to Belize


It has been a week since the arrival of Majid Khan, a former al-Qaeda courier, to Belize. The 42-year-old Pakistani was held in the high-security United States (U.S.) facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for over 15 years on terrorism-related charges. After completing his prison time, he was relocated to Belize following negotiations between the governments of the U.S. and Belize. Upon his arrival, Foreign Minister Honourable Eamon Courtenay assured the Belizean people that Khan’s presence in the country posed no threat to national security.

Majid Khan

Foreign Minister Courtenay said Khan shows no negativism and has shared his aspirations to be a productive member of Belizean society. He said before coming to Belize, he was allowed to use a computer with the internet to research his new home. The U.S. Government has provided funds for purchasing a house in Belize, a cellular phone, and a vehicle for Khan. His wife and teenage daughter will join him soon. Courtenay emphasized that Kahn is not a terrorist now living in Belize. He added that Kahn had accepted responsibility for his actions, asked Allah for forgiveness, and was de-radicalized.

Honourable Eamon Courtenay

In a statement issued through his legal team, Khan is thankful for being given a second chance in life. “I intend to make the most of it. I deeply regret what I did many years ago, and I have taken responsibility and tried to make up for them. I continue to ask for forgiveness from God and those I have hurt. I am truly sorry.” Kahn continued by saying the world has changed a lot in 20 years, and he has changed as well. “I promise all of you, especially the people of Belize, that I will be a productive, law-abiding member of society. Thank you for believing in me, and I will not let you down. My actions will speak louder than my words.”

At this time, it is unknown where in Belize he is dwelling; however, Courtenay said Kahn emphasized that as a Muslim, he wants to continue practicing his religion. Currently, mosques exist in the Capital City of Belmopan, Belize City, the Orange Walk District, and San Pedro, Ambergris Caye.

Kahn’s involvement in terrorism and torture while in detention
According to reports from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kahn was involved in terrorist activities between 2002 to 2003. He was captured in 2003 in Pakistan by U.S. authorities and held at an undisclosed prison for three years. During this time, he was reportedly tortured, enduring waterboarding, hung from his wrists while naked and hooded, subjected to beatings, sexual assaults, sleep deprivation, starvation, and other abuses.

Guantanamo Bay

In 2006 he was sent to the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, and by 2012 he pled guilty to terrorism conspiracy. According to investigations, he delivered US$50,000 in cash, of which a portion was used to blow up a hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia killing several persons. He was convicted and sentenced to ten years. His time imprisonment ended in 2022, and the U.S started looking for a country to resettle Khan.

Courtenay said his government considers Kahn’s resettlement as a humanitarian act. Even though he contributed to terrorism activities, Courtenay said he was brutally abused and tortured while in custody and served his time. Courtenay said Khan repudiates his radicalism and has cooperated with the U.S. authorities in the fight against terrorism.
After Khan’s transfer, the U.S. Defense Department issued a statement. ‘The United States appreciates the willingness of the Government of Belize and other partners to support ongoing U.S. efforts focused on responsibly reducing the detainee population and ultimately closing the Guantanamo Bay facility.’

While Khan resides in Belize, Courtenay explained that Kahn would not be allowed to travel internationally for many years. He can move throughout Belize as he pleases, as a free man. However, he will be monitored. According to Courtenay, there is a monitoring and reporting system to ensure Kahn is where he is always supposed to be. Courtenay noted that if an issue arises, there are laws and treaties to address the situation. However, the Belizean Foreign Minister is confident that there will be no issues with Majid Khan in Belize.

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