The Obama administration is expected to release 17 detainees as early as next week, including “al Qaeda followers” who have been cleared for release from the Guantánamo Bay prison by a board established by the president.
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter told lawmakers last month that 17 Guantanamo prisoners would be sent to other countries in January.
A source, who has reportedly reviewed the list of individuals who are supposed to be moved out, told Fox News that the group or 17 includes “bad guys” and “Al Qaeda followers,” without revealing the identities of the prisoners.
CNN also reported on the upcoming transfer, citing an anonymous senior U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the information is not yet public.
The American official “did not disclose the exact number who will first be transferred or their destination,” reported CNN, echoing Fox News, which noted, “Little is known publicly about which prisoners are being prepared for transfer, but the Obama administration has notified Congress it plans to ship out 17 detainees – some of whom could be transferred within days.”
Fox News quoted their source as saying the group of prisoners to be transferred includes “multiple bad guys… not taxi drivers and cooks.”
In 2012, the Obama administration cleared for transfer Ibrahim al Qosi to Sudan. Although he entered a reintegration program, the one-time cook for Osama bin Laden scrammed to Yemen, where he is now engaged with al Qaeda leadership.
“That transfer is now said to be a source of considerable heartburn for the Obama administration,” notes Fox News.
President Obama vowed to shut down the military prison since he came into office in 2009, a move that has been met with resistance in Congress.
Nevertheless, the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), which tracks propaganda disseminated by jihadists, argued that terrorist groups are no longer using Guantánamo as a recruitment tool.
“The topic of Guantánamo prisoners appeared rather frequently in Al-Qaeda’s propaganda in past years,” reportedly said Eliot Zweig from MEMRI. “However, the topic has received little to no attention in the last year or two… Gitmo hasn’t received much attention in official ISIS releases.”
“Multiple countries have agreed to take the men, in small groups, and the source said some of the countries were so-called first timers — a reference to the fact those countries had not taken Guantánamo detainees in the past,” added the report.
A recent House report revealed that at least some of the high-risk five Taliban commanders illegally released by the Obama administration in exchange for accused deserter Bowe Bergdahl have returned to “threatening activities.”
In early 2015, the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) conceded that at the time an estimated “18 percent” of released Guantánamo Bay detainees had re-engaged in terrorist activities in recent years.
“The White House is awaiting a final plan for closing Guantánamo from the Pentagon. An initial proposal was considered too expensive,” reports Fox News.
The Associated Press first reported the upcoming transfer of the 17 detainees.