Pentagon Frees Guantánamo Detainee to Saudi Arabia

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The Associated Press

(Reuters) The United States said on Tuesday it had transferred Abdul Shalabi, a longtime hunger striker at the Guantanamo Bay prison and described as a bodyguard for former al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, to his home country of Saudi Arabia.

His departure after more than 13-1/2 years at the Guantanamo facility leaves 114 detainees at the U.S. naval base in Cuba, the Pentagon said in a statement.

The U.S. Defense Department has described the 39-year-old Shalabi as a member of al Qaeda and a longtime bodyguard for bin Laden, who received “specialized close combat training for his role as a suicide operative in an aborted component” of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

Shalabi was transferred “to the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” the Pentagon said, marking the second detainee departure from Guantanamo in less than a week. The Pentagon last Thursday said Younis Abdurrahman Chekkouri, a Moroccan detainee held since 2002, had been returned to his home country.

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