Public relations disaster affects tourism, admits British Foreign Secretary

LONDON (—The five British nationals set to be freed by the United States from the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba have stated unequivocally that they have absolutely no desire to return to Britain.

Two of the prisoners, Rhuhel Ahmed, 23, and Asif Iqbal, 20, both from Tipton, near Birmingham, stated the poor weather and lousy food as their primary reasons.

“Just the thought of all that rain and cloudy skies makes me want to sign up with the Taliban again,” said Ahmed.

Echoed Iqbal: “Honestly, I can’t go back to that, I just can’t. I want to stay in Cuba. The weather is great, and I want to travel around and see the place. I want to puff on a cigar, drink some rum, dance, go to the beach. Just enjoy life, you know.”

Fidel Castro, in one of his 6-hour marathon speeches about nothing in particular, briefly mentioned that all 5 detainees were free to stay in Cuba, if they so chose, but would have to accept more Spanish-sounding names. “Rhuhel could be, say, Jose, and Asif might be Pedro, something like that.” He also added that they would be employed at a sugar refinery, “as far away from guns and explosives as possible.”

This has been particularly embarrassing for a British government which had worked for months for their release. The criticism in parliament had been so great that British Prime Minister Tony Blair apologized earlier this month for the delay.

As the news of the British detainees’ refusal to go home spread, a sharp increase in tourist cancellations to the British Isles was reported.

Dodek Blochowiak of Warsaw, who had planned to visit London later this month and possibly look for a job in the black, cancelled his travel plans, saying: “If it’s not good enough for a bunch of terrorists, it’s not good enough for me.”

Jack Straw, the British Foreign Secretary, admitted this was a public relations disaster. “We should have left them there,” he admitted to TheShortStraw.

Copyright © 2004, TheShortStraw


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