Two Guantánamo detainees from Yemen have been transferred from the detention center and relocated to Ghana, marking the beginning of an expected 17 imminent departures from the naval base. Now, just 105 detainees remain at Guantánamo Bay.
“The Department of Defense announced today the transfer of Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih Al-Dhuby from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay to the Government of Ghana,” according to a statement from the U.S. Defense Department (DOD).
The statement added:
The United States is grateful to the Government of Ghana for its humanitarian gesture and willingness to support ongoing U.S. efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. The United States coordinated with the Government of Ghana to ensure these transfers took place consistent with appropriate security and humane treatment measures.
Ghana’s Foreign Ministry commented on the transfer, stating the two Yemeni nationals would stay in the country for two years, and that the west African nation accepted the alleged terrorists on humanitarian grounds. “They [Bin Atef and Al-Dhuby] are unable to return to Yemen at the moment,” but after the two-year period expires, the men will be free to leave the country, the Foreign Ministry said.
Bin Atef “accepted recruitment and facilitation from a known al-Qaida member in Saudi Arabia, and acknowledged traveling to Afghanistan to participate in jihadist combat,” said a previously classified memo leaked to WikiLeaks. “He has threatened to kill US citizens on multiple occasions including a specific threat to cut their throats upon his release,” the memo added, which deemed Bin Atef as a “high risk” who is “likely to pose a threat to the US.”
Al-Dhuby is a “probable” member of al-Qaeda and is a “medium risk” who may “pose a threat to the US, its interests and allies,” a DOD assessment of him said. Like Bin Atef, Al-Dhuby went to fight jihad in Afghanistan against U.S. forces, according to the leaked documents. Al-Dhuby was seen as a risk for reengaging in terror activities, as his family has close ties with extremist groups, the memo warned.
The two are likely part of a group of 17 Guantanamo detainees expected to be released from the detention center in the coming weeks.