On Sunday, it was revealed that two men released from the U.S. terrorist detention center at Guantanamo Bay in 2007 had reemerged as top-level al Qaeda operatives. Three days later, other former Guantanamo prisoners were arrested. Is closing Guantanamo really such a good idea?
Appearing on a jihadist website, terrorist Abu Sufyan al-Azdi al-Shahri taunted the U.S. Identifying himself by his Guantanamo number, 372, he said: “By Allah, imprisonment only increased our persistence in our principles for which we went out, did jihad for, and were imprisoned for.”
Al-Shahri is now considered the number-two al Qaeda man in Yemen. Shown in a video seated next to al-Shahri is prisoner 333, also known as Abu al-Hareth Muhammad al-Oufi, who is now a ranking al Qaeda field commander.
Then on Tuesday, more bad news emerged. Saudi Arabia announced that it had rearrested nine Islamist terrorists, including at least two former Guantanamo inmates.
These latest Guantanamo catch-and-release resurfacings couldn’t have come at much worse of a time for President Barack Obama, who recently issued an executive order to close the Guantanamo facility and is looking for a home for the remaining 245 terrorists.
Although Europe—and much of the rest of the world—lobbied for Guantanamo’s closure, Europeans have now found themselves in the prickly position of having gotten what they wished for.
According to Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, none of the 27 member countries are “very hot” on taking inmates from Guantanamo. In fact, many European countries including Britain, Poland, Austria, the Netherlands, Sweden and Slovenia are rejecting detainees. Even the German government, which pushed especially hard to shutter Guantanamo, is split on the issue.
Javier Solana, the EU’s foreign policy chief, said that member states could not accept any Guantanamo residents unless Obama’s administration could prove that the prisoners posed no further security risks.
And that could be a bit difficult. According to the U.S. Defense Department, so far 11 percent of former Guantanamo detainees are known to have reintegrated themselves into terrorist networks or are actively fighting against the U.S. True numbers may be even higher.
However, at least one congresswoman, as quoted by Fox News, says the report should not slow down the Guantanamo closure.
Further complicating the issue is that human rights groups oppose returning many of the prisoners to their home countries because they may be put at risk.
The price America will end up paying for policies such as shutting this prison down is revealed in Stephen Flurry’s article “Obama’s CIA Pick Reveals Radical Shift in Fighting Terrorism.” •