South America Can't Find Ex-Gitmo Detainee

Syrian native Abu Wa'el Dhiab, who had been resettled in Uruguay, goes missing
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 5, 2016 8:50 AM CDT
South America Can't Find Ex-Gitmo Detainee
In this June 5, 2015, file photo, Abu Wa'el Dhiab of Syria, right, and Adel bin Muhammad El Ouerghi of Tunisia, both freed Guantanamo Bay detainees, stand next to the window of their shared home in Montevideo, Uruguay.   (AP Photo/Matilde Campodonico, File)

A South American airline is asking its employees to be on the lookout for a former Guantanamo Bay detainee who was resettled in Uruguay after being freed by US authorities, the AP reports. The alert about Syrian native Abu Wa'el Dhiab adds to a growing mystery about his whereabouts. Uruguayan authorities have insisted for weeks that he's visiting neighboring Brazil—though the Uruguayan interior minister says his exact location hasn't been known since June 6, per—and that as a refugee he's entitled to leave Uruguay, but Brazil says there's no record of Dhiab entering the country. A rep for Colombia-based Avianca Airlines told the AP on Monday that the alert was issued internally, but he declined to give further details. The alert, published by the Argentine Web news portal Infobae, warns employees that Dhiab may be using a fake passport. The image of the alert posted by Infobae says the information came from Brazil's anti-terrorism police.

Dhiab—who plus55 notes was nabbed in Pakistan in 2002 for supposed al-Qaeda ties—is one of six ex-Gitmo detainees resettled in Uruguay in late 2014, but some of the men initially complained the government wasn't helping them enough; they also refused to get jobs, drawing criticism from Uruguayans. Dhiab has been particularly vocal about his unhappiness there. Several weeks ago, Uruguayan media began reporting he'd left the country. Government officials said he'd traveled to Brazil, noting he hadn't broken any law and wasn't being sought. However, last week the US Embassy in Uruguay said US authorities were "collaborating" with Brazilian and Uruguayan authorities to locate Dhiab. Human rights activist Belela Herrera says it's "crazy" to use the word "terrorism" in relation to Dhiab, who was never charged by US officials and cleared for release. "He has a valid identity card, issued by the Uruguayan government, that allows him to go to other countries. He is not a fugitive from justice," Herrera tells the AP. (Read more Guantanamo Bay stories.)

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