As the four freed Chinese prisoners run their toes through the pink sand of Horseshoe Beach and feel the blast of salt sea air on their faces this weekend, freedom will rarely have tasted so sweet.

From the world's most notorious terrorist lock-up at Guantanamo Bay to the balmy palm fringed shores of paradise: Even in the context of lives defined by dramatic struggle, it has been an eventful week.

The unfolding story of the quest to relocate the Chinese Muslims and the bemusing denouement that they will be relocated to paradise islands Bermuda and Palau, has enraptured foreign editors across the world.

But, until yesterday morning, it had barely registered a blip on the radar screen of most Bermudians.

So who are your new neighbours? How did they end up in the world's most notorious terrorist detention centre and why on earth are they coming here?

The Bermuda quartet were among a group of Chinese nationals of the ethnic group Uighurs (pronounced Wee-Gars) arrested in Pakistan after fleeing 'camps' in Afghanistan following the U.S.-led invasion in 2001.

They were detained and questioned during military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

But the U.S. Government was unable to provide any evidence that they were a threat to the U.S. or its allies and they have been based at the low-security Camp Iguana awaiting release for several years.

The proposed closure of Guantanamo has hastened the need to find somewhere for them to go.

However, unlike other terror suspects released from Guantanamo, they could not be repatriated in their homeland because of fears that the communist Chinese regime, which considers them terrorists, might torture and execute them.

A judge initially instructed that they should be released in the U.S. But the decision caused a political firestorm on Capitol Hill and was subsequently reversed.

The U.S. Government has since embarked on an unsuccessful quest to find a home for the group, with most countries unwilling to grant asylum to prisoners the U.S. were not prepared to take themselves.

The Pacific islands of Palau, famous for its fishing and diving, and Bermuda, stepped in to resolve the crisis this week.

In his speech yesterday morning, Premier Dr Brown characterized the quartet as refugees - innocent men wrongly jailed for seven years after being caught in the crossfire of an international conflict that had nothing to do with them.

It is a view supported by the Guantanamo Review Task Force which conducted a threat assessment on the four earlier this year and concluded that they should be approved for resettlement.

Classifying the decision as a humanitarian action, Dr Brown said taking in the former prisoners was simply the right thing to do.

The quid-pro quo for Bermuda, other than an affirmation of 'friendship' from the U.S., was unclear and local reaction ranged from bemused to outraged.

"Why should we take in people the U.S. won't even allow on their soil?" was a common thread among readers' responses to the Bermuda Sun's website report yesterday morning.

The simple answer seems to be that Bermuda is not as concerned about diplomatic relations with China as some of the more significant players in the international community, who have more to lose by upsetting the Communist superpower.

Chinese authorities maintain the Guantanamo detainees - said to be members of terrorist group the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, which is agitating for independence for the mostly Muslim Xinjiang region in the north west of the country - should be released into their custody.

The detainees claim to have suffered religious and political persecution in China - a far from outlandish allegation in a country whose recent history of human rights abuse is a topic of global concern.

Most international news reports have indicated that the group were in Afghanistan receiving some form of weapons training and it is broadly accepted that they were part of a struggle for independence from China.

Tribunals held at Guantanamo established that they were not 'enemy combatants' in the U.S. war on terror, though the status of their 'threat' to China was not up for discussion.

Whether they are terrorists, freedom fighters or innocent men in the wrong place at the wrong time, it seems, is a matter of perspective.

But after eight years of controversial imprisonment they were grateful to wash up on Bermuda's shores this week.

How they will adjust and be accepted in the community, though, remains to be seen.