JACK STRAW is powerless to help five “forgotten” UK residents who will still be held at Guantanamo Bay, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said yesterday.
None of the men is a British citizen but all are residents of the UK with refugee status or indefinite leave to remain here. “In line with international law we have no standing to influence these cases and the US will not accept any representations,” a spokesman said.
The Foreign Office also said that it was unaware of the whereabouts of Tariq Mahmood, a Birmingham taxi driver and British citizen who may be in Guantanamo Bay. Mr Mahmood, a father of two in his thirties, was arrested in Pakistan last year on suspicion of connection with terrorist networks. No one has heard from him since.
The five UK residents include Bisher al-Rawi, 37, and his friend Jamil al-Banna, 42, who were arrested in Gambia in November 2002 and subsequently flown to Cuba. Both men had been questioned by British security services in London before their detention in Africa. Campaigners on their behalf believe that Britain may have alerted the US authorities to their travel plans.
Mr al-Rawi, a former pupil of Millfield School, who was born in Iraq, and Mr al-Banna, a Jordanian, vehemently deny any involvement in terrorism. Neither had visited Afghanistan.
Mr al Rawi, the only member of his family to have retained Iraqi citizenship after his father fled in the 1980s, has had leave to remain in the UK for 20 years.
Omar Deghayes, a partially blind law graduate, was taken to Cuba after allegedly being captured by bounty hunters in Pakistan. Mr Deghayes, 35, is from a Libyan family that fled Gaddafi’s regime in 1986.
Shaker Abdurraheem Aamer, 38, a Saudi citizen, has lived in Britain since 1996. Jamal Abdullah Kiyemba, 24, is a Ugandan citizen, who had lived in Britain for ten years. His mother is a British citizen.