The last detainee at Guantanamo Bay from the UK, who was released after 14 years in detention, has said that Islamic extremists living in the country should "get the hell out". Shaker Aamer, 48, was held at the US military facility in Cuba on suspicion of terrorist activities but was never charged or tried. He was finally let go in October.
"How can you give yourself the right to be living here in this country, and living with the people and acting like you are a normal person, and then you just walk in the street and try to kill people?" Aamer asked in an interview with The Daily Mail.
"Even if there is a war you cannot kill just anybody, you cannot kill kids, you cannot kill chaplains, you cannot just go in the street and get a knife and start stabbing people. If you are that angry about this country, you can get the hell out," Aamer, a father of four, said.
Rules of war
He said the lowest point during his detention at the US military facility came last year when Islamic State (Isis) militants were threatening to kill British aid worker Alan Henning. "When I heard, I said I would love to help him out. IS said he was a spy, but that was b******t. Why should they want to kill a man who was just trying to help?"
"The concept of war in Islam is not about indiscriminate killing. It is governed by rules that also cover how you should treat prisoners. If a man is innocent, a man who went to help the people, then you must share your own food with him, and treat him decently. Even if a human being is fighting against you, he should be treated humanely, not tortured or beaten up."
"It worries me," he added, referring to the growing prejudice against Muslims amongst non-Muslims, as highlighted by US presidential hopeful Donald Trump who called for Muslims to be banned from entering America. Aamer said extremists want this and "it helps their cause… if you keep looking at people like they are terrorists before they do anything, then you will push them towards violence".
Held without trial
Aamer was cleared for release by the Bush administration in 2007 and by the Obama administration in 2009, but only to Saudi Arabia. US officials refused to allow him to return to the UK, where he had been granted asylum, despite requests from the Labour and Coalition frontbenchers.
He was detained in Afghanistan in 2001 after being captured by Northern Alliance forces, before being handed over to US forces. Aamer said he was working for a charity, but another US detainee claimed Aamer was a close associate of Osama bin Laden. The US military originally described Aamer as a "recruiter, financier, and facilitator" for al-Qaeda but later admitted it did not have any evidence to back up their allegations.
Aamer was never charged with any crime nor given a trial, despite being detained for 14 years.