JULY 28, 2015
Will the U.S. cave into an Arab nation’s pressure—witnessed firsthand by Judicial Watch—to release a senior Al Qaeda operative and Osama bin Laden advisor who has already been refused discharge by President Obama’s special Guantanamo parole board?
The terrorist is a Kuwaiti national named Faez Mohammed Ahmed al-Kandari and he’s been a prisoner at the U.S. military compound in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba since 2002. His Department of Defense (DOD) file says he has a history of participating in violent militant Islamic activities, poses a high-risk threat to the United States, has numerous connections to senior Al Qaeda members and was an influential religious figure for Al Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan. Al-Kandari also provided ideological training at the al-Faruq camp and the Islamic Institute in Kandahar and served as a propagandist who produced and distributed multimedia recruitment material and wrote newspaper articles paying tribute to the 9/11 hijackers.
Last year the special Periodic Review Board (PRB) created by President Obama to empty the military prison at the U.S. Naval base in southeast Cuba, denied al-Kandari’s petition for release. The PRB is comprised of senior officials from the departments of Justice, Defense, Homeland Security and State as well as the Joint Staff and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Their job is to review whether a continued detention of particular individuals held at Gitmo remains necessary to protect against a significant threat to the nation’s security. Dozens of Gitmo captives, including bin Laden’s bodyguard, have been released by the PRB in the last few years in an effort to meet Obama’s goal of closing the facility.
Among them is the only other Kuwaiti still imprisoned there, Fawzi al-Odahm, released by the Obama administration to a laughable jihadist rehabilitation program last year. Al-Odah belonged to a London-based Al Qaeda cell and is an “extremist recruiter and courier,” according to his DOD file. Al-Odah also participated in hostilities against U.S. and Coalition forces and served on an Islamic committee providing inspiration to fighters in Tora Bora. He has a history of participating in jihadist combat and has connections to extremist affiliated non-governmental organizations yet he was let go.
Al-Kandari, on the other hand, was denied freedom last July when the PRB determined that his detention “remains necessary to protect against a continuing significant threat to the security of the United States.” By consensus Obama’s Gitmo parole board concluded that al-Kandari “almost certainly retains an extremist mindset and had close ties with high-level al-Qaeda leaders in the past.” The PRB found that al-Kandari was too susceptible for recruitment due to his connections with extremists and his “residual anger at the U.S.” The board also noted a lack of history regarding the efficacy of Kuwait’s comical terrorist rehab program, officially known as the Al Salam Rehabilitation Center.
Nevertheless, this week the Gitmo PRB granted al-Kandari another parole hearing and Judicial Watch covered the proceeding live via circuit television from a DOD facility in Crystal City, Virginia. High-level sheikhs from Kuwait’s government were present, reportedly to negotiate al-Kandari’s release. They included multiple diplomats, members of the government-run wire service Kuwait News Agency (KUNA), and the Kuwaiti ambassador to the United States, all advocating for al-Kandari’s release. Al-Kandari is the last Kuwaiti prisoner at Gitmo and Middle Eastern news agencies have reported on the Arab nation’s mission to bring him home. In fact, Kuwaiti Deputy Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammad Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah recently traveled to Washington to push for al-Kandari’s release and express the Emir of Kuwait’s “utmost concern for this case.”
The push likely helped al-Kandari get a second parole hearing in a year as other captives patiently wait for a turn to appear before the board. A Pentagon official told JW that the PRB should take a few weeks to make a decision in al-Kandari’s case. If the board commits an about-face by releasing this terrorist, it has some serious explaining to do. JW, which has repeatedly traveled to Gitmo to cover the military commission proceedings of the world’s most dangerous terrorists—including 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and USS Cole bomber Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri—will continue monitoring this case.
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