The Obama administration, continuing its goal of closing the Guantánamo Bay detention camp, is readying the “transfer” of 17 “lower-level detainees” from the country, officials told The New York Times.
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter has already notified Congress of plans to move forward. Congress requests that Carter notify legislators at least 30 days before any of the men at Guantánamo are released from the base.
The Times report was confirmed with Fox News on Thursday, with a Congressional aide telling the outlet that his boss would be briefed on the plan on Friday. With the seventeen coming transfers, the Guantánamo detention facility population will move down to 90. The move would also be the largest month quantitatively for transfers since 2007.
The White House did not get into specifics about details regarding the imminent action. “I don’t have any announcements about any planned transfers at this point,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters.
“The U.S. government is working diligently to find countries who will work effectively with our national security professionals to put in place the appropriate security precautions to allow those individuals to be transferred,” Earnest added.
Detainee recidivism has become a major issue lately, with high profile jihadis returning to the fight against the west.
A major House Armed Services Committee report released this month found that the “Taliban 5,” who were released from Guantánamo in exchange for disgraced Army Sgt Bowe Bergdahl, have resumed “threatening activities.”
“Some of the Taliban Five have engaged in threatening activities since being transferred to Qatar,” the report said, adding that the majority’s whereabouts remained virtually untraceable.
Also in December, another former Gitmo detainee, Ibrahim al-Qosi, resurfaced in an Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) propaganda video. “We placed America in the top of our list same as America placed us in the top of the list,” Qosi says in the video produced by the Al Qaeda Yemen branch, promising to continue his fight against the United States. “The war is not over yet,” he adds.
In November, the Obama Administration freed five detainees from Guantanamo, one of whom was allegedly Osama bin Laden’s bodyguard. Ali al-Razihi is “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,” a formerly classified document said of freed jihadi. The five men were released to the UAE.