"Madam Speaker, it is my understanding that President Obama’s decision regarding the release into the United States of a number of Uyghur detainees held at Guantanamo Bay since 2002 could be imminent. The New York Times, ABC News and others news outlets have reported that the president will soon release these terrorists into the United States, and yet this Congress has yet to be briefed on this decision. This is unacceptable.
"Let’s be clear: these terrorists would not be held in prisons but released into neighborhoods. They should not be released at all into the United States. Do Members realize who these people are? There have been published reports that the Uyghurs were members of the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement, a designated terrorist organization affiliated with Al Qaeda.
U.S. government policy towards the Uyghirs and the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) is complicated. See this Congressional Research Service report, starting on page 8, for background.
For more on the ETIM, see the State Department's 2008 Country Reports on Terrorism and its index of Other Terrorist Groups. Here's how the report describes the ETIM and some actions it recently took against the Chinese government:
Despite a series of violent incidents and threats leading up to the Beijing Olympics, the Games were held successfully without terrorist incidents. Starting in June, representatives of a group calling itself the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) posted videos on the Internet taking credit for violent incidents in China and threatening to strike the Olympic Games. TIP is believed to be an another name for the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Party (ETIP), also known as the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), which was added by UN 1267 Committee to its Consolidated List of individuals/entities associated with Usama bin Laden, al-Qa‘ida, or the Taliban on September 11, 2002. Among the incidents TIP took credit for was a series of bus bombings in Kunming, Yunnan Province that killed two people in July. In March, the Chinese government claimed that flight attendants foiled a plot to detonate a homemade explosive on a flight from Urumqi, Xinjiang to Beijing by subduing a female passenger.
That sounds like terrorism to me, but note that the State Department does not include the ETIM on its list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (it is merely on State's list of "other terrorist groups," and therefore doesn't receive the sanctions applied to FTOs). However, as noted above, the ETIM is listed by the United Nations as an entity with affiliations to Al-Qaeda.
The Obama administration is caught in a political dilemma. It wants to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility even if it means having to release and resettle in the United States some detainees who - like the Uyghurs - would be, ah, treated harshly if returned to their home countries. That plan requires the U.S. public and Congress to swallow the idea of having Islamic terrorists with Al-Qaeda affiliations living among us.
Of all the Guantanamo detainees, the Uyghurs are probably the group that would be the least offensive to the public and Congress since they seem to have committed no acts against U.S. interests. Possibly, the administration figures the Uyghurs would make a good opening wedge for its plan to eventually bring the whole GITMO gang to the U.S.
Representative Wolf obviously hopes that a public airing of the ETIM's record will make the Uyghur's resettlement in the U.S. politically impossible. I'm on his side.