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Last Updated: Friday, 1 August, 2003, 14:23 GMT 15:23 UK
Al-Qaeda suspect's ordeal
Khalif Abdi Hussein
Mr Hussein says the suspects were well treated in Khartoum

A Kenyan man who was held for five weeks in three different countries wrongly suspected of belonging to the al-Qaeda terror network has been telling the BBC of his ordeal.

Khalif Abdi Hussein, a 40-year-old Muslim teacher of Somali origin was arrested in June in Malawi with four others before being whisked out of the country.

Their deportation prompted violent demonstrations in Malawi.

They told us, 'We don't see any evidence to link you with Al-Qaeda network'
Khalif Abdi Hussein

Speaking after arriving in Nairobi from the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, Mr Hussein told BBC's Network Africa programme that his nightmare began when he heard a knock at the door at about 0200 on 22 June.

"Someone shouted, "Open the door!" I asked them who they were and the told me that they were from immigration.

"They came in and searched my house. They took all my documents, the books, papers, and my cellphone (mobile phone)," he said.

'Immigration problem'

Mr Hussein said he was then arrested and put under police custody but he said that the police did not explain why he was arrested.

"They said I had an immigration problem. But I did not understand what they meant by immigration problem. Then they took me to the police station, where I met my friends - the other four people who were arrested with me," he said.

For five weeks, family members were unable to trace the whereabouts of the five men, with reports suggesting they may have even been flown to the US base at Guantanamo Bay, where many al-Qaeda suspects have been taken.

Malawian President Bakili Muluzi
President Muluzi reportedly apologised to the families

Human rights groups and lawyers protested against the government's decision to fly them out of the country and demanded to know where the detainees had been taken.

A fortnight ago, the plight of Mr Hussein was raised in the Kenyan parliament, and the government finally announced it had traced his whereabouts to Harare, Zimbabwe.

"From there - Blantyre, (Malawi) they took us to Lilongwe (Malawi). When we arrived in Lilongwe they covered our eyes (blindfolded) us and they covered our heads with head cloths. Then they took us to Zimbabwe."

Mr Hussein said that the five suspects were not given any reason as to why they were moved to Zimbabwe.

"They did not tell us anything. When they took us on the aeroplane, we thought they were taking us back to Malawi. We were in Zimbabwe for one month," he said.

'No Americans'

But Mr Hussein denied reports that they had been sent to a US base in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

"Myself, I did not see any American people.

"They (Malawian security) handed us over to Zimbabwe authority, who separated us - everyone was put in a cell," Mr Hussein said.

After four weeks all five suspects were moved from Harare and found themselves at Khartoum Airport in Sudan.

"They were trying to get something from us to link us with the al-Qaeda network. But they failed, because we did not have any connections with al-Qaeda.

'Not Al Qaeda'

"Then they took us to a nice place and gave us whatever we needed - so it was very nice - for us. They took us to a guest house," said Mr Hussein.

Then the Sudanese government announced that the five men were being held in Khartoum and that they would be released soon.

Malawian President Bakili Muluzi reportedly apologised on Tuesday to the families of the five al-Qaeda suspects for the embarrassment caused to them.

On Wednesday, Mr Hussein and his co-suspects were released and told that they were free to go home.

"They told us, 'We don't see any evidence to link you with al-Qaeda network'," Mr Hussein said.




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