The emergence of a former Guantánamo Bay detainee as the deputy leader of Al Qaeda’s Yemeni branch has underscored the potential complications in carrying out the executive order President Obama signed Thursday that the detention center be shut down within a year.
The militant, Said Ali al-Shihri, is suspected of involvement in a deadly bombing of the United States Embassy in Yemen’s capital, Sana, in September. He was released to Saudi Arabia in 2007 and passed through a Saudi rehabilitation program for former jihadists before resurfacing with Al Qaeda in Yemen.
His status was announced in an Internet statement by the militant group and was confirmed by an American counterterrorism official.
Of course buried deeper in the article is this:
In the Internet statement, Al Qaeda in Yemen identified its new deputy leader as Abu Sayyaf al-Shihri, saying he returned from Guantánamo to his native Saudi Arabia and then traveled to Yemen “more than 10 months ago.” That corresponds roughly to the return of Mr. Shihri, a Saudi who was released from Guantánamo in November 2007. Abu Sayyaf is a nom de guerre, commonly used by jihadists in place of their real name or first name.
So this guy was released while Bush was still in office, but it’s now Obama’s fault. trying to say how it proves that Obama can’t close Gitmo.
Of course Obama never said he was “closing Gitmo and releasing everyone”. The plan is to close Gitmo, a place that has become a symbol of human rights violations around the world, and move the detainees to other places to be held. Obama said they would review every single case and decide what to do with each detainee. Besides, wouldn’t it be safer to have all these people separate instead of putting all our eggs in one basket?
Also – shouldn’t we ask ourselves how well this Saudi rehabilitation program is working? He was supposed to be rehabbed by Saudi standards, but goes right back to terrorism. Considering how close Bush was with the Saudi royal family, I am not surprised by this failure in rehab.