JANUARY 23, 2009
One day after President Barack Obama basked in the international media coverage of his Executive Order to close Guantanamo Bay prison, a major newspaper reports that a one-time detainee became an Al Qaeda leader who masterminded a U.S. Embassy bombing after being released.
The alarming report comes days after the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency disclosed a sharp rise in the number of Guantanamo detainees who rejoin terrorist missions after leaving the military prison. Officials said the number of suspected Middle Eastern terrorists who returned to “the fight” after being released from custody has nearly doubled in a short time from 37 to 61.
Many, like the former Guantanamo prisoner turned deputy Al Qaeda leader (Said Ali al-Shihri), have targeted Americans. Defense sources confirm that Shihri became an Al Qaeda leader in Yemen and he organized the deadly September bombing of the United States Embassy in Yemen’s capital. He was also involved in the September car bombings outside the American Embassy that killed 16 people.
Shihri was released by U.S. authorities to Saudi Arabia in 2007 and went through a Saudi rehabilitation program for jihadists, according the news report which attributes its information to American counterterrorism officials familiar with the case. It’s not clear when exactly he moved to Yemen, where poverty is widespread and terrorist cells are rampant.
Nearly half of the 255 suspected terrorists—all men—still imprisoned at the U.S. naval base in Cuba are Yemenis and defense officials say scores should never be released because they pose a serious threat to the United States. Some will probably be repatriated under Obama’s new plan, which means they will go through a Yemeni rehab similar to the Saudi program that Shihri completed.
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