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Friday, June 16, 2006

Suicide As A Public Relations Strategy

The deaths of two Saudis and a Yemeni, identified as Mani Shaman Turki al-Habardi al-Utaybi and Yasser Talal al-Zahrani ,and Ali Abdullah Ahmed who used knotted bed sheets to hang themselves in their solitary cells, brought renewed calls from European governments and human rights organizations to bring the 460 inmates to trial, or close down the camp. Bush administration officials reject suggestions that the three had killed themselves in despair over their indefinite confinement.

The deputy assistant secretary of state for public diplomacy, told BBC's Newshour on Sunday,
"Taking their own lives was not necessary, but it certainly is a good PR move."
The camp's commander said,
"..... I believe this was not an act of desperation, but an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us,"
The Pentagon had actually cleared Utaybi for transfer out of Guantànamo in late 2005 - although it was uncertain whether he knew he would be leaving, Cully Stimson, the deputy assistant secretary of detainee affairs told the Guardian a London newspaper. He said that Utaybi, who belonged to a militant Islamic missionary organization, had been recommended for transfer to a third country.

Stimson described Ali Abdullah Ahmed as a mid-to high-level al-Qaida operative with connections to Abu Zubaydah, the former chief of military operations in US custody. The third man, Yasser Talal al-Zahrani, had been captured on the battlefield in late 2001 during the prison uprising at Mazar-i-Sharif.

In Britain, Massoud Shadjareh, of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, said of the US officials' remarks:
"This is the sort of statement that SS officers in Nazi Germany would have been envious of."
Inayat Bunglawala, of the Muslim Council of Britain, deplored the "incredibly insensitive and callous" comments.
"The deaths of these three people was not an act of war, it was an act of desperation."

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