Pentagon Sends Four Guantanamo Detainees to Saudi Arabia

bin Laden
The entrance to Camp 5 and Camp 6 at the U.S. military's Guantanamo Bay detention center / AP
• January 5, 2017 5:26 pm


The Pentagon announced Thursday that it has transferred four prisoners from the Guantanamo Bay military prison to Saudi Arabia, as part of a final wave of transfers before President Obama leaves office.

Salem Ahmad Hadi Bin Kanad, Muhammed Rajab Sadiq Abu Ghanim, Abdallah Yahya Yusif Al-Shibli, and Muhammad Ali Abdallah Muhammad Bwazir were transferred from the military prison at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Defense Department confirmed in a release late Thursday afternoon. The news was first reported by Fox News on Wednesday.

The latest releases whittled the prison population at Guantanamo Bay down to just 55 prisoners, from a peak of 684 over a decade ago.

"The United States coordinated with the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to ensure these transfers took place consistent with appropriate security and humane treatment measures," the Pentagon release said Thursday.

The announcement came days after White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters that the Obama administration was expected to announce additional transfers before the president leaves office. Meanwhile, on Tuesday, President-elect Donald Trump warned the administration against releasing more detainees from Guantanamo Bay.

"There should be no further releases from Gitmo," Trump tweeted. "These are extremely dangerous people and should not be allowed back onto the battlefield." Trump, who will be inaugurated on Jan. 20, has repeatedly said he will keep Guantanamo Bay open.

The New York Times reported in December that the Obama administration intends to transfer 17 or 18 Guantanamo detainees before the president leaves office, which would reduce the prison population down to 41 or 42 detainees.

Several Republican lawmakers have been critical of the Obama administration's accelerated efforts to shrink the Guantanamo prison population over the last year. The president has long pledged to close Guantanamo, arguing that it is against U.S. interests and is used as a recruitment tool for terrorists.

Those wary of efforts to close Guantanamo have pointed to assessments from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence showing that roughly 30 percent of former Guantanamo detainees have rejoined terrorist activities or are suspected of doing so.