The Uighurs are Muslims from East Turkmenistan who no doubt have legitimate grievances against the Chinese who have conquered and colonized their country, if such it ever was. But some of them decided to pursue jihad against China and went to Afghanistan to train with al Qaeda. They were there at the end of 2001 when we routed the Taliban and captured a number of terrorists and terrorist trainees. The Uighurs fell in the latter category.
The Uighurs posed no great threat to the U.S., notwithstanding their extreme Muslim beliefs, and the Bush administration would have been happy to let them go. But the only country that wanted them was China, and the Chinese government would have killed them the moment they got off the airplane. So, for humanitarian reasons, the Bush administration held the Uighurs at Guantanamo Bay and tried to find someone who would take them.
The Obama administration finally succeeded in that effort, but at considerable cost. The first batch of Uighur terrorist trainees were resettled in Bermuda. We wrote about it here. Going from East Turkmenistan to a training camp in Afghanistan to Guantanamo Bay to Bermuda may not be quite like dying and going to Heaven, but it’s awfully close.
Now the second batch of six Uighurs has been resettled, in Palau. Palau has little in common with Bermuda except that both are island paradises. The Associated Press reports:
Palau, a clutch of islands east of the Philippines that is home to some 20,000 people and still relies on funds from Washington, offered to take all but one of the Uighurs. Both sides denied the offer was linked to U.S. aid. …
[President Johnson] Toribiong is taking a personal interest in the resettlement. He turned out to welcome them when they arrived before dawn Sunday. On Wednesday, he plans to treat them to a boat trip and picnic in Palau’s Rock Islands, the country’s main tourist destination and one of the world’s top diving spots. …
Earlier, the Uighurs spent time at an Internet cafe, setting up e-mail accounts and contacting relatives in Australia and four fellow former detainees now living in Bermuda.
Nearby, their government-supplied home has spotless hardwood floors, a fresh coat of paint, new furniture and appliances, and a sweeping view of the ocean. Washington is paying for the Uighurs’ housing, job training, food and other costs in Palau.
To the men’s visible relief, a large air conditioner was delivered Tuesday afternoon to help them cope with the tropical heat. High speed internet–a rarity in Palau–and cable television are scheduled to be installed on Wednesday.
Here is a photo of the resettled Uighurs, having shaved their long beards to fit in with the local population:
Here, a couple of the would-be terrorists go wading in the Pacific Ocean:
Here, they are grilling beef skewers on the beach:
Here, they board a boat for the picnic in the Rock Islands referred to above:
It’s hard to know what to make of this, apart from the fact that the world is a weird place, and getting weirder all the time. I’m fine with resettling the Uighurs, but is it really necessary for U.S. taxpayers to fund “spotless hardwood floors, a fresh coat of paint, new furniture and appliances, and a sweeping view of the ocean”? Not to mention housing, job training, food, and all other living expenses, including air conditioning, cable television and high-speed internet, which is a “rarity” in Palau. If the administration is looking for volunteers to live at government expense in an island paradise, count me in.
No doubt these expenses are a drop in the bucket compared to the trillions that the Obama administration is wasting here at home. But could it be any clearer that we are living under a government that treats our tax money–which is to say, our work; our time; our lives–with contempt?