Two More Guantánamo Detainees Released from Facility

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Tariq Mahmoud Ahmed Al Sawah and Abd Al Aziz Abduh Abdallah Ali Al Suwaydi have been released from Guantánamo Bay detention camp, bringing the detainee total at the facility down to 91 individuals.

Sawah, 58, an Egyptian national, was picked up on the battlefield in Afghanistan and is alleged to be an Al Qaeda explosives expert. He was previously a member of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. He has been transferred to Bosnia.

But he was also known as “one of the most compliant detainees at Guantánamo,” according to comments relayed during a 2015 review board hearing. Due to his compliance, Sawah was offered several privileges, including being allowed to maintain a garden, paint, watch satellite television, and own a mini fridge.

Sawah was so well-fed that he actually developed health problems from obesity. “They fattened him up with cheeseburgers. He weighs like 400 pounds,” a U.S. official told The Guardian.

These rewards may have been offered thanks to his willingness to share intelligence information on jihadi groups. According to reports, Sawah gave up on Islam and life as a jihadi, becoming an atheist. This led to the detainee being viewed as an apostate in the eyes of his old allies, forcing the U.S. to continue holding him over worries about his safety, the Washington Post reported.

He was not seen as a threat to rejoin terrorist groups once released, according to multiple review boards.

Suwaydi, 41, a Yemeni national, has been resettled in Montenegro.

He is a member of Al Qaeda who learned explosives training at the group’s Tarnak Farm Training Camp, according to leaked government documents. If released, he was deemed a “high risk” to later “pose a threat to the US.”

Pakistani forces arrested Suwaydi in Karachi in 2002, and later transferred to Guantanamo at the request of the United States.

A third detainee, Mohammed Bwazir, declined a resettlement offer for unknown reasons. Bwazir “really wanted to go some place where he had family. I urged him to take it,” said his attorney, John A. Chandler.

In leaked Pentagon files, the U.S. military assessed Bwazir would likely reengage in terrorist activities. He even volunteered to be a “suicide operative,” according to his file.

The Pentagon also announced on Thursday that another detainee, Mustafa Abd al-Qawi Abd al-Aziz al-Shamiri, a Yemeni national, has been cleared for release. A review board found he had “low level military capability.”

On January 14, the Defense Department announced the transfer of ten detainees, marking the largest recorded single-day release of Guantanamo prisoners.

Since the beginning of 2016, 16 detainees have been released from the facility.


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