The Pentagon announced the release of four Guantanamo Bay detainees to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Wednesday, lowering the number of remaining detainees to 55.
Salem Ahmad Hadi Bin Kanad, Muhammed Rajab Sadiq Abu Ghanim, Abdallah Yahya Yusif Shibli, and Muhammad Ali Abdallah Muhammad Bwazir were all former al-Qaida members with a long history of terrorist activity.
Kanad, a native of Yemen, reportedly fought against U.S. forces as a commander in the 55th Arab Brigade, an elite guerrilla unit personally created by Osama bin Laden. While his review in April, 2016, indicated that he wanted to be released to live a peaceful life with his family in Riyadh, Kanad consistently expressed a desire to engage in jihad prior to his capture.
Ghanim, also a Yemeni citizen, was once a personal bodyguard to Osama bin Laden. He associated with the terrorists responsible for the USS Cole bombing in 1999 and a suspected 9/11 hijacker and may have ties to the Hezbollah terrorist organization. Ghanim has a long criminal history, which includes sabotage, theft and weapons smuggling. He also is suspected of fighting with bin Laden’s 55th Arab Brigade.
Shibli, a Saudi native, fought for al-Qaida during the infamous raid on Osama bin Laden’s Tora Bora compound. He is known to have attended several al-Qaida training camps in Afghanistan.
Mohammed Ali Abdullah Bwazir, a Yemeni citizen, is also a former member of the infamous 55th Arab Brigade. He willfully admitted to U.S. military personnel to fighting coalition forces in Afghanistan and continued to display extremist tendencies after his capture and detainment. Military officials at one point warned he would likely seek out terrorist contacts if he were to be released.
President Obama made closing the the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay a key policy objective throughout his presidency. He created the Periodic Review Board, which is comprised of senior officials from various government departments, in order to determine the suitability of release for the detainees. Many of the detainees released under the Obama administration were deemed “high risk” and between 18 and 30 percent have returned to terrorism.
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