Former Gitmo detainee finds slice of freedom at Albanian pizza shop


Life after Gitmo: Some Uighur detainees found work at a Bermuda golf course. (Mark Tatem/Associated Press)

Some of them had found work at Bermuda’s Port Royal Golf Course (although David Arkley, the deputy governor of Bermuda, tells the Loop they’re still in the territory but no longer employed at the links).

And now, we learn that one has landed a gig making pizzas in Albania. As BBC News reports, Abu Bakker Qassim’s new job represents both a cross-cultural mashup and the end of a long, strange voyage: “A Uighur from north-western China, he was detained in Pakistan in 2001, imprisoned at Guantanamo, and is now cooking halal Italian food in Albania.”

After being offered a home in Albania and advised by his lawyer to master a trade at which he could work, Qassim decided to become a pizza chef. “I knew that Albanians love pizza and I love cooking, so it was very easy for me to learn,” he tells the BBC.

The Uighurs were held at Gitmo as terrorism suspects, and were eventually determined not to pose a threat to the United States but couldn’t be sent back to their native China because they faced the risk of persecution there.

And now, it seems, one of them has found a slice of a new life.

Emily Heil is the co-author of the Reliable Source and previously helped pen the In the Loop column with Al Kamen.

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