Friday, January 23, 2009

Hey, Let's Close Camp X-Ray (Gitmo) and Here's What We Can Look Forward To

How come I'm hearing about this from the Socialist Rag, The Guardian, UK? WTF? Needless to say, this is the least we can expect from closing Gitmo. Sheesh. How can these idiots be so dense?

Former Guantánamo inmate named as al-Qaida deputy in Yemen

Revelation highlights risks of closing US military prison

A former inmate of Guantánamo Bay has emerged as the deputy leader of the al-Qaida network in Yemen, highlighting the risks presented by Barack Obama's decision to close the military prison.

Obama announced on Thursday that he is shutting Guantánamo Bay, where Yemenis form the largest single group among the 250 prisoners. Yemen is setting up a centre where more than 100 prisoners will undergo "rehabilitation" upon their release, but the return of Said Ali al-Shihri to the battlefield has raised questions about the dangers of returning so many former detainees to their homeland.

Confirmation that a previous inmate is involved in terrorist activities underscores criticism from Republicans that security issues are being overlooked in the Obama's long-trailed decision to close the controversial facility.

US officials said Shihri, 35, who is suspected of involvement in the bombing of the US embassy in Sana'a last September, was released to Saudi Arabia in 2007 and passed through a Saudi rehabilitation programme for former jihadists before resurfacing in Yemen.

Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, as the group is known, identified Shihri as its deputy leader in an internet statement.

"The lesson here is: whoever receives former Guantánamo detainees needs to keep a close eye on them," an official told the New York Times.

The Pentagon has admitted that 61 former prisoners – 12% of the 510 released – have returned to the battlefield.

The president of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh, is billed as a key US ally in what the Bush administration called the "war on terror", though his country, the poorest in the Arab world, has been seen in recent months as a growth area for al-Qaida while it is in retreat elsewhere in the Middle East.

Yemen, ancestral home of Osama bin Laden, sent large numbers of young men to wage jihad in Afghanistan during the anti-Soviet war, with many returning to fight for al-Qaida in Saudi Arabia.

Reports from Sana'a said the rehabilitation centre was being built with US government assistance. It has triggered criticism from human rights activists, who say it would be tantamount to continued imprisonment for the released detainees.

Yemeni official media said that in the new facility inmates would undergo a series of "edification programmes based on moderation to shun extremism and terrorism". It would also accommodate the inmates' families.

It appears to mirror the Saudi programme, which western and Arab governments have praised for its success in "re-educating" repentant jihadis, though human rights groups have criticised the methods employed.

"To rehabilitate a former prisoner, you don't need to put him behind bars again," Khaled al-Anesi, of the Sana'a-based human rights organisation Hood, told Arab News. "The rehabilitation act is in the prisoners' interest, but rejailing them is not."

Salih has been accused of taking a lax approach to extremists, especially after 23 prisoners tunnelled their way out of prison in 2006 amid reports of collusion between officials and militants. Western diplomats say Salih had "understandings" with al-Qaida that it would be left alone to recruit fighters for the Iraq war if it did not attack inside Yemen. He has pursued a programme of "dialogue" under which jihadis are allowed to go free if they promise to mend their ways. Yemen's programme of "surrender and release" for terrorists has officially been described as "lenient" by the US.

No comments: