According to a report from the Congressional Research Service, fifty convicted terrorists are set to be released from US Federal Prison in the coming decade.
The Associated Press reports that the majority of terrorism convicts are kept in the highest security facilities, experience little contact, but, on average, only serve approximately 13 years. This an issue that has concerned law enforcement officials and terrorist scholars who know the possibility of re-entrenchment in extremist ideology is high.
“There’s no net to catch them. There is no way to make sure they don’t re-engage in extremism,” National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism researcher Patrick James declared to the AP.
Of terrorists released from Guantanamo Bay, 121 have returned to the field of Jihad. Ex-Guantanamo bay detainee Jamal al-Harith appeared in a recent ISIS propaganda video before blowing himself up in the battle for Mosul in Iraq.
Other cases of terrorist re-entrenchment include one from early July, in which a released Guantanamo detainee Abu Wa’el Dhiab went missing in South America after he likely bordered a flight with a fake passport. The Obama administration released Dhiab to Uruguay in 2014. Furthermore is the case of released Taliban commander Abdul Qayyum Zakir from Guantanamo Bay to the government of Afghanistan. The Afghan government subsequently released Zakir for no reason and he soon returned to the field as a senior commander.
Other “terrorist” suspect aren’t as dangerous. One man actually lied, claiming he was a terrorist in order to trade information on his organization for a lighter sentence. Ismail Royer is a former convict released who has shown there is a life on the other side. He was released last December after serving more than 13 years on firearms charges connected to his work helping others get to a militant training camp in Kashmir, the disputed territory between Pakistan and India. He says stories like the one about the fake terrorist makes knowing exactly what these men are going to do when they get out difficult.
“He lied to them. He didn’t know anyone from al-Qaida. He just told them some names and very quickly they found out that he was full of crap,” Royer said. “He went to prison for lying to the FBI and they put him in the terrorism unit. The only concern with him is that he’s a hustler,” Royer said. “That’s not to say that it’s not a crime.”
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