Congress has refused Obama’s request to close Guantanamo Bay – so he is gradually emptying it instead.
In a major step, the Pentagon just announced the largest transfer of prisoners out of Gitmo during Obama’s administration. A total of 15 detainees were released to the United Arab Emirates – 12 Yemenis and 3 Afghans.
Obama has pledged to close Guantanamo Bay prison where some of the most dangerous terrorists have been held. He claims the facility is “contrary to US values” and “undermines the nation’s standing in the world.”
Reportedly, the recently released prisoners had been held without charge for around 14 years. Lee Wolosky, the State Department’s special envoy for Guantanamo’s closure, said the U.S. was grateful to the United Arab Emirates for accepting the latest group of 15 men and “helping pave the way for the detention center’s closure,” reported Fox News.
“The continued operation of the detention facility weakens our national security by draining resources, damaging our relationships with key allies and partners, and emboldening violent extremists,” Wolosky said.
Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ed Royce, condemned the releases: “Once again, hardened terrorists are being released to foreign countries where they will be a threat.”
Out of 676 detainees released from the prison, 204 are confirmed or suspected of returning to terror after release – a full 30%.
Now just 61 prisoners remain at Gitmo. Out of those, another 20 are already approved for release, while 7 are facing criminal charges and 34 are scheduled for “continued detention.”
Detainees awaiting trial are:
- Khalid Sheikh Mohammed – regarded as a senior operative in al-Qaeda. Has been charged over the 9/11 attacks. Reportedly admitted personally decapitating kidnapped US journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002
- Ramzi Binalshibh – alleged to be another senior al-Qaeda figure linked to 9/11 – tried to become one of the plane hijackers but failed to get a US visa
- Mustafa Ahmad al-Hawsawi – suspected financial chief used by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to arrange the funding for 9/11
- Walid Bin Attash – allegedly helped in the preparation of the 1998 East Africa Embassy bombings and the USS Cole bombing and acted as a bodyguard to al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden
Obama has spread out the released prisoners to the following nations: the UAE, Georgia, Senegal, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Morocco, the UK, Mauritania, Oman, Bosnia, Montenegro, Algeria, Kazakhstan, Uruguay, Estonia and El Salvador.
One detainee who was released to Uruguay suddenly went missing last month, and authorities were scrambling to find him.
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