Obama Request Sparks Israel’s Interest in Taking ‘Forever’ Gitmo Detainee


Israel is interested in honoring the Obama administration’s request to take a Kenyan “forever prisoner” held at the U.S. military detention center in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, reports the Miami Herald.

However, the newspaper points out that the deal has “hit a snag… because the FBI has failed to furnish the Israelis with information from its interrogations.” Mohammed Abdul Malik Bajabu, 43, has remained at Guantánamo since 2007 in connection with a 2002 terrorist attack on an Israeli hotel in Kenya.

“They [Israel] want to see the incriminating statements. And that’s where we are stuck — and have been for many months —which is frustrating,” a U.S. official told the Herald on condition of anonymity, adding that the Obama administration has specifically requested that the Department of Justice (DOJ) convince its FBI component to cooperate.

President Barack Obama’s parole-style panel, officially known as the Periodic Review Board (PRB), designated the Kenyan captive, Bajabu, a “forever prisoner” in June, which means he is too dangerous to release.

The Obama administration has asked Israel to take and prosecute the detainee, whom U.S. intelligence authorities have affiliated with a 2002 terror attack on an Israeli hotel in Mombasa, Kenya.

“Israel is interested, according to U.S. officials aware of the offer, but is awaiting cooperation from the FBI, whose agents interviewed Abdul Malik sometime after he got to Guantánamo in March 2007,” reports the Miami Herald.

The Herald learned of Israel’s interest in taking and prosecuting the captive from three unnamed government officials familiar with a trip the State Department’s Special Envoy for the closure of Guantánamo, Amb. Lee Wolosky, took to Israel in April, where he met with senior officials, not including Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

DOJ has refused to comment on the request, acknowledges the newspaper, noting that it remains uncertain whether President-elect Donald Trump will push for the proposed deal.

Although Trump has expressed disapproval of some of Obama’s Guantánamo release decisions, he has not ruled out transfers.

“I want to make sure, 100 percent sure, that if we’re going to release people, No. 1 they are going to be people that can be released and it’s going to be safe to release them,” he told the Miami Herald earlier this year.

According to a leaked May 2007 detainee profile, Abdul Malik “admitted that he participated in the planning and execution” of two terrorist attacks that targeted Israelis on Nov. 28, 2002, in Mombasa.

One of the attacks has been identified as a car-bombing of the Israeli-owned Paradise Hotel that killed 13 people, the majority of them Kenyans.

On the same day, terrorists failed to carry out a surface-to-air missile attack on an Israeli Arkia airliner carrying 271 passengers near the airport in Mombasa.

Kenya has failed to prosecute some of the men affiliated with the attacks.

In 2009, U.S. commandos targeted and killed one of the alleged attackers who had been linked to al-Qaeda.

“Abdul Malik has never been charged with a crime at the war court, suggesting what is alleged is beyond the reach of military commissions,” reports the Herald.

Of the 59 prisoners still held at the Guantánamo facility, also known as Gitmo, Obama’s PRB has approved 20 for release and deemed 29 to be “forever prisoners.”

The remaining 10 Gitmo detainees “are in war crimes proceedings at military commissions, six of them death-penalty tribunals,” according to the Miami Herald.

Obama is still trying to keep his campaign promise to shut down the prison, stepping up reviews by his parole-style board.

However, a bipartisan bill signed into law by Obama himself prohibits the administration from transferring detainees onto U.S. soil, a major tenet of the Pentagon’s plan to shut down the facility.