Ret. Navy commander slams Obama for jihadi ‘catch & release’ deal

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During the last days of the Obama administration, more than 4,000 jihadists were apprehended by Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman. They were then sent to Saudi Arabia for “rehabilitation” at the Mohammed bin Nayef Center for Counseling and Care. Included in this group were at least 9 terrorists former President Obama had released from Guantanamo Bay.

The center is supposedly a reentry program for “former” jihadists. At the center, the terrorists receive religious re-education, vacations, conjugal visits and art therapy.

Considered a friend to the United States, bin Salman recently chaired the first summit of the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition (ISMCTC) and made clear he would not allow jihadism to “tarnish our beautiful religion.” However, these were empty words, according to Gregory Keeley, a retired Navy lieutenant commander.

As a veteran of Iraq, Afghanistan and the Pacific, Keeley wrote an opinion piece in The Hill, which was published on Monday, in which he detailed the “dangerous failure” of the jihadi “catch and release” plan.

To date, all council members on the coalition are Sunni dominated countries, according to a Keeley’s report. He went on to say that the alliance does not include any countries with Shia majorities, such as Iran, Iraq or Syria. “Bin Salman condemned extremism at ISMCTC in 2017, two years after creating the forum. Until last month the council had never held a summit, much less countered Islamist extremism,” he wrote.

According to Keeley’s report, at least 462 “graduates” from the Center for Counseling and Care have returned to terror-related activities in the name of Islam.

In Washington, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released a report last year tracking Guantanamo Bay detainees re-engaging in terrorism. That report reveals that a total of 121 former Islamist detainees have re-engaged directly in terrorism.

Militants who underwent rehabilitation programs in Saudi Arabia have all returned to jihad, including terrorists such as Mohamed Atiq Awayd al Harbi, who after being repatriated to Saudi in 2007, was placed at the Center for Counseling and Care, notes Keeley. Once “rehabilitated,” al Harbi was released and quickly became the second in command for al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP).

Keeley’s report listed several other jihadists who were freed after “rehabilitation” and have returned to extremism without looking back.

“Jihadi rehab centers are not effective. The programs do not work. In its attempt to honor a campaign promise to close Guantanamo Bay, the Obama administration returned many hardened Islamic terrorists to the battlefield. Assuming the latest batch of Gitmo alum remain true to form, they have likely already scurried across the border and rejoin AQAP in Yemen. We need less terrorists, not more,” he concluded.

Saudi Arabia has arrested and deported more than four thousand illegal aliens since mid-November. Yemenis make up 75 percent of the 4,452 foreigners apprehended in the sweep, according to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA). Given these numbers, it is easy to forget the nine terrorists previously held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba who were recently released by the Kingdom. The Yemeni Islamic extremists were released by President Obama in the waning days of his presidency.

The Obama administration released the jihadists to Saudi Arabia for “rehabilitation” at the Mohammed bin Nayef Center for Counseling and Care. 

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