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Guantanamo Bay detainees freed to El Salvador disappear

Ethnic Uighurs Abdul Razak and Ahmad Muhamman fled China and ended up in Pakistan where they were handed over to American forces.

Guantanamo bay prison 1Enlarge
A group of detainees kneels during early morning prayer in the camp at the US military prison for "enemy combatants" on Oct. 28, 2009 in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. (John Moore/Getty Images)

Two former Guantanamo detainees – both ethnic Uighurs from China – have fled El Salvador 17 months after they were released to the Central American country.

That they managed to disappear without passports could fuel speculation the United States has lost control of former detainees, Associated Press reported.

“We are aware that the two Uighurs who were resettled in El Salvador departed the country,” the State Department’s Ian Moss told AP.

“However, we will not comment on the specifics of their decision to resettle elsewhere, or their current whereabouts.”

The US had kept Abdul Razak, Ahmad Muhamman and 20 other Uighurs at Guantanamo Bay.

The Uighurs fled China, eventually settling in Afghanistan. When the US invaded in 2001, they travelled to Pakistan where tribal leaders turned them in to American troops.

They arrived in Guantanamo in 2002, and the US began releasing them in 2006, but had trouble finding receptive countries to take them.

Uighurs interviewed by McClatchy Newspapers suggested Razak and Muhamman fled to Turkey.

While they originated in China, many Uighurs refuse to carry Chinese passports.

Uighurs have long campaigned for greater autonomy from China, and any returning there would be subject to harsh punishment, the secretary general of the World Uyghur Congress said.

“At a minimum, they would face life imprisonment there, or the death penalty,” Nuri Musabay told McClatchy.

Muhamman is considered one of the few Uighurs from Guantanamo who posed a threat. He admitted to being a weapons trainer in Afghanistan, McClatchy said.

More from GlobalPost: Does China have a radical Islam problem? 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/130927/guantanamo-bay-detainees-uighurs-freed-el-salvador-disappear