The latest move in President Obama’s bid to close the Guantánamo Bay prison facility involves the transfer of two Libyan detainees, who were captured in Pakistan in 2002, to Senegal.
The Washington Post describes the two prisoners, Salem Abdu Salam Ghereby and Omar Khalif Mohammed Abu Baker Mahjour Umar, as members of the “Libyan Islamic Fighting Group,” an Islamist group dedicated to overthrowing Moammar Qaddafi. Some LIFG members journeyed to Afghanistan and Pakistan, where they became involved with al-Qaeda.
Although the two Libyans have not been charged with any crimes, the Post reports they “may have fought against U.S. forces after the September 11, 2001 attacks.”
Moving them out of Guantánamo Bay was difficult, because they were among a group of detainees who cannot be repatriated to their unstable home countries. Libya is currently embroiled in a civil war, plus an invasion by ISIS.
Reuters reports Secretary of State John Kerry “thanked the government of Senegal, a Muslim-majority West African country, for accepting the two Libyans for ‘humanitarian resettlement.’”
“We are taking all possible steps to reduce the detainee population at Guantanamo and to close the detention facility in a responsible manner that protects our national security,” Kerry added in his statement.
Ghereby, currently 55 years old, lost some of his fingers in an explosion before he was captured. Umar, who is now 43 or 44, had a leg amputated, “possibly after stepping on a mine,” according to the Washington Post.