Letter claimed refugees were bin Laden agents
The death of al-Qaida leader and 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden recalls a time when fear gripped the entire globe, including the Cayman Islands.
In particular, there was the intrigue of three Afghan nationals who inexplicably came to shore in August 2000, some 11 months before the attacks on America.
The suggestion that they were terrorists was made in an anonymous letter mailed to Radio Cayman in late August 2001, two weeks before the 9/11 attacks. The author said he was convinced the men were agents of Osama bin Laden and the three were organising an attack against the United States using an airline or airlines.
The events of 9/11 created worried interest in the letter and as a result, the Afghan men, who were seeking asylum in Grand Cayman and staying in a guest house, were arrested and detained at Northward Prison. Authorities from the investigative branches of the American government, including the FBI, subsequently came to the Cayman Islands to look into the matter.
No charges were ever filed against the men, and in 2006, after years of speculation, a statement was issued by the then-Chief Immigration Officer Franz Manderson, which stated, “Lack of proper travel documents and unwelcome nationality…led to local questioning of their motives and authenticity, which is totally unfounded.
“We have undertaken extensive background checks on these individuals and there is absolutely nothing indicating that they are anything but legitimate refugees fleeing an oppressive regime.”
The men since went on to become what Mr. Manderson referred to as “exemplary visitors, volunteering and contributing what they can to the community, and it’s time we make a decision – we owe it to them,” he said, regarding the men’s impending asylum.
Director of the Red Cross Jondo Malafa Obi spoke highly of the men, whom she said had done well since their ordeal.
The Caymanian Compass managed to speak with Reza Hussaini today, one of the two Afghan men still living in the Cayman Islands. He said the third man, Nek Nazary, had gone to school at the University College of the Cayman Islands, before moving on to St. Matthew’s Medical School and eventually becoming a doctor in the United States.
When asked how he felt about the death of bin Laden, he remarked, “I am very happy,” adding that he was thankful to be past that time in his life now.
He said the third man, Nek Nazary, had went to school at the University College of the Cayman Islands, before moving on to St. Matthew’s Medical School and eventually becoming a doctor in the United States.