The national security parole board for Guantánamo Bay has approved the transfer of 35-year-old Majid Mahmud Abdu Ahmed, a former bodyguard for Osama bin Laden, to an as-yet-undetermined “Arab-speaking country” that can offer “appropriate security assurances.”
Ahmed is originally from Yemen, currently torn asunder by a civil war between Iran-backed insurgents and its Saudi-supported nominal government, with al-Qaeda and ISIS taking advantage of the instability. A top general close to the Yemeni president was recently assassinated in Aden, which the nominal government has been using as a capital city, because the actual capital is held by the Shiite Houthi militia.
The Miami Herald reports Ahmed was “recruited to join the Taliban at age 18 or 19 and became a bin Laden bodyguard at 21, a month before the Sept. 11 terror attacks.”
He arrived in Guantánamo during the first week of the detention center’s operation in January 2002, one of several dozen young prisoners described as “bodyguards” for al-Qaeda mastermind bin Laden. He wound up classified as a “forever prisoner,” ineligible for either trial or release. Two other “forever prisoners” are up for transfer hearings in the coming weeks.
The parole board declared his detention is “no longer necessary to protect against a continuing significant threat to the security of the United States.”
The board essentially declared Ahmed had grown out of working for al-Qaeda and the Taliban, saying he has “matured since entering detention.”
The board saluted him for educating himself while in captivity and gave him credit for his “relative candor in discussing his time in Afghanistan, acceptance of the mistakes he made, and a credible desire not to repeat those mistakes.”
He was described as a “compliant” prisoner, although the Miami Herald notes he has been “largely uncooperative with investigators.”