The Defense Department announced on Monday that five Yemeni nationals have been released from the Guantánamo Bay detention camp, including an Al Qaeda terrorist who reportedly had close ties to Osama bin Laden. They are in transit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Pentagon said.
The five men, all of whom had been detained for over a decade, were identified as Ali al-Razihi, Khalid al-Qadasi, Adil al-Busays, Sulayman al-Nahdi and Fahmi al-Asani.
The release of the enemy combatants is part of President Obama’s ultimate goal to do away with Guantánamo completely. The five men were cleared by a secondary Guantánamo review board, but an initial task force only approved the release of four of the men, excluding al-Razihi.
al-Razihi had been a bodyguard for 9/11 mastermind and Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, the task force said in recommending his continued detention. He also fought against the U.S.-backed Northern Alliance shortly before the U.S. entry to the region. He was described as a “medium [security] risk [who] may pose a threat to the US, its interests, and allies,” said a statement from the initial task force.
A formerly classified document has described al-Razihi as “a member of Al Qaeda who was identified as a UBL bodyguard and received basic and advanced training at Al Qaeda’s al-Faruq Training Camp.”
“Detainee supported combat activities on the front lines in Afghanistan as part of the Osama Bin Laden’s 55th Arab Brigade. Detainee assisted in the management of Al Qaeda supported guesthouses,” the document added.
However, another review board set up by the Obama government found that the men should also be released, according to reports.
The five suspected terrorists were scooped up in Afghanistan shortly after the September 11, 2001 attacks, when U.S. forces began to engage against regional terror groups Al Qaeda and the Taliban.
“The Periodic Review Board… determined continued law of war detention of al-Razihi does not remain necessary to protect against a continuing significant threat to the security of the United States,” said a statement from the Pentagon.
The Pentagon said the release of the five men brings the Guantánamo Bay detention camp prisoner population to 107 detainees. “The United States coordinated with the Government of the United Arab Emirates to ensure these transfers took place consistent with appropriate security and humane treatment measures,” the Pentagon statement added.
The UAE has previously accepted an unnamed Guantanamo detainee, doing so in 2008.