It remains uncertain where the 10 unidentified prisoners, who have been allegedly pardoned and “temporarily” transferred to Oman from the U.S. military prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, will go afterwards.
According to the Times of Oman, a statement carried by the state-controlled Oman News Agency (ONA) on Monday, notes:
An official source at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said by following Royal Directive issued by His Majesty the Sultan to meet the American Government’s request to settle the cases of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, considering their humanitarian conditions, 10 people who have been pardoned arrived to the Sultanate for a temporary stay.
The statement emphasized that the 10 captives liberated from the Guantánamo prison, also known as Gitmo, will “temporarily” reside in Oman.
“There was no immediate explanation of the reference to their stay being temporary,” points out the Miami Herald. “But U.S. diplomats have in the past negotiated transfers to security arrangements that withhold travel documents from the freed captives for a specific time period, in some instances two years.”
The Pentagon has confirmed the release of the 10 detainees, which reduced the Gitmo population down to 45.
Obama, which vowed to shut down the facility during his election campaign in 2008, is expected to bring the number of detainees down to nearly 40 by the time incoming President Donald Trump takes over on Friday.
On Tuesday, the Pentagon has identified the 10 men as: Ghaleb Nassar Al Bihani (Yemen); Mustafa Abd al-Qawi Abd al-Aziz al-Shamiri (Yemen); Karim Bostam (Af); Abdul Sahir (Afghanistan); Musab Omar Ali Al-Mudwani (Yemen); Hail Aziz Ahmed Al-Maythali (Yemen); Salman Yahya Hassan Mohammad Rabei’i (Yemen); Mohammed Al-Ansi (Yemen); Muhammad Ahmad Said Haider (Yemen): and Walid Said bin Said Zaid (Yemen).
Eight of the men are from Yemen and two from Afghanistan, both countries ravaged by ongoing wars.
A substantial portion of the jihadists who remain in Guantánamo are from Yemen.
“All the men sent to Oman earlier [before the recent transfer] were from neighboring Yemen,” reports the Miami Herald. “It is U.S. policy not to repatriate Yemeni detainees from Guantánamo to their turbulent, violence-plagued nation.”
Citing anonymous Western and Iranian officials late last year, Reuters noted that the Yemen-Oman border is porous, adding that “much of the recent [human and weapons] smuggling activity [into Yemen] has been through Oman.”
The recent transfer has transformed Oman into the largest Guantánamo resettlement nation.
According to the Miami Herald, “The sultanate, which is said to have a special rehabilitation and reintegration program, previously took in 20 captives from Guantánamo in three transfers of 10, four and six men in January 2016 and in 2015.”