1. Through the reporting, you meet a lot of very sad victims, but there was something about Ismael that really stuck with me. And I was really depressed coming back home thinking, ‘I’ll never see this kid again. What a remarkable kid.’ And luckily, what ended up happening was the story ended up getting a lot of attention. It moved others in Canada. We have a large Somali-Canadian diaspora — they decided to try and help Ismael.

    They started Project Ismail and one Canadian in particular, Sahal Abdulle — who lived in Nairobi and he’s a former Reuters photojournalist — he told me, ‘Listen I can’t save Somalia, but I think I can save Ismail.’ So he set out to save him and 10 months after I wrote that story, he called me and said, ‘We’re gonna get him to Nairobi. Come back.’ So I was in Nairobi where they had managed this great escape for him and Ismail came across the border and I did a story about that.

    He applied for refugee status and refugee protection and I thought it would take long time, but just a month later, got a call from Sahal [who] said, ‘You’re never gonna guess what, but he’s got a country that’ll take him on an emergency basis.’ And I said, ‘Canada!’ — I was hoping it would be Canada. ‘No,’ said Sahal. ‘It’s Norway.’ And I thought, ‘OK, Norway, that’s fine.’ And then he said, ‘No, it’s Harstad, Norway.’ So we were both Googling where Harstad, Norway, was and that’s how I found myself a year after I met Ismail on a plane with Ismail and Sahal flying 200 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle to this beautiful little town of 23,000 called Harstad. And that is where Ismail lives now.

    — Michelle Shephard on how her article helped lead to Ismail Khalif Abdulle’s rescue

  2. Al Shabab

    Michelle Shephard

    Somalia

  1. Award-winning journalist Michelle Shephard on the Uyghur detainees of Guantanamo:

There are some that still remain in Guantanamo but many of them have been settled elsewhere in countries that are willing to accept them. And that’s difficult to find because many countries don’t want to anger China by accepting them. But the Uyghurs were swept up with others sold by Pakistani forces to the U.S. I find their cases some of the saddest because many of them — they’ve told me when they were handed over from Pakistan to the Americans, they were overjoyed. They thought, ‘Oh great, now we’re with the Americans. Everything will be fine. We love Americans! We oppose China and the U.S. stands up to China so isn’t this great.’
And it took a lot of them a long time to realize that they were in custody for a while. And their case was complicated by other events that happened. They were told when they got to Guantanamo that essentially their arrests had been a mistake — that they had been swept up with others — but they would be sent, released at some point. But then we had the Iraq War, and the U.S. needed China’s help in this so that complicated their case. And for many of them, it took years until they were released and they were only released when another country agreed to take them because they couldn’t be sent to China for fear of torture.

(Photo credit: Ashwaq Arrabyee) View in High-Res

    Award-winning journalist Michelle Shephard on the Uyghur detainees of Guantanamo:

    There are some that still remain in Guantanamo but many of them have been settled elsewhere in countries that are willing to accept them. And that’s difficult to find because many countries don’t want to anger China by accepting them. But the Uyghurs were swept up with others sold by Pakistani forces to the U.S. I find their cases some of the saddest because many of them — they’ve told me when they were handed over from Pakistan to the Americans, they were overjoyed. They thought, ‘Oh great, now we’re with the Americans. Everything will be fine. We love Americans! We oppose China and the U.S. stands up to China so isn’t this great.’

    And it took a lot of them a long time to realize that they were in custody for a while. And their case was complicated by other events that happened. They were told when they got to Guantanamo that essentially their arrests had been a mistake — that they had been swept up with others — but they would be sent, released at some point. But then we had the Iraq War, and the U.S. needed China’s help in this so that complicated their case. And for many of them, it took years until they were released and they were only released when another country agreed to take them because they couldn’t be sent to China for fear of torture.

    (Photo credit: Ashwaq Arrabyee)

  2. Guantanamo

    Michelle Shephard

    Uyghur

    Fresh Air