Nine Guantanamo Detainees Are Sent To Saudi Arabia, Drama Ensues
Nine Guantanamo detainees have been transferred to Saudi Arabia. According to authorities, the nine men, including Tariq Ba Odah, who has been on a hunger strike since 2007, had been approved for release several years ago, but it was not possible for them to return to Yemen due to the instability in the country.
Nine Guantanamo detainees are now home with their families. In a press release from the Pentagon, it has been revealed that nine Guantanamo detainees from Yemen, who were never charged with any crime, have been released to Saudi Arabian authorities.
The Yemenis will go through a “government-run rehabilitation program that seeks to reintegrate militants into society,” according to Saudi Arabian officials. The men were approved for release several years ago, but the political climate of their home country prevented them from being repatriated there.
The nine prisoners are Ahmed Umar Abdullah Al-Hikimi, Abdul Rahman Mohammed Saleh Nasir, Ali Yahya Mahdi Al-Raimi, Muhammed Abdullah Muhammed Al-Hamiri, Ahmed Yaslam Said Kuman, Abd al Rahman Al-Qyati, Mansour Muhammed Ali Al-Qatta, Mashur Abdullah Muqbil Ahmed Al-Sabri, and the most famous of them all is Tariq Ali Abdullah Ahmed Ba Odah.
Since 2007, Mr. Ba Odah has been on a hunger strike, and he was forced fed every day by military personnel. Tariq Ba Odah, who weighs about 75 pounds had the following to say after being reunited with his family after 15 years:
“By God, I would dream about him at night. I would get up and pray during the night, praise be to God. God answered my prayers 15 years later … 15 years later.”
Ba Odah’s lawyer, Omar Farah, slammed the U.S. government for toying with his client’s life. The attorney stated:
“It stood by as he wasted away on hunger strike to 74 pounds, intervening only to force liquid supplements through his nose, block his appeal for humanitarian relief in federal court, and sabotage a deal that would have secured his freedom and access to emergency medical care months ago. That he survived is not so much a cause for celebration as it is a reckoning that ought to remind the White House of the cost of elevating politics over the life and liberty of a human being.”
The detainee count at Guantanamo Bay is down to 80 with 26 of the prisoners approved for release, and 22 of them are so-called forever detainees – meaning America will never free them. Many expect President Obama to use an executive order to move the 26 low-level detainees before he leaves the White House – 16 detainees were transferred out of Guantanamo in January of this year.
Republicans are slamming the transfer of the nine Guantanamo detainees, claiming that they will join terrorist organizations once they are freed. The Pentagon’s statement read:
“The United States is grateful to the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for its humanitarian gesture and willingness to support ongoing U.S. efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. The United States coordinated with government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to ensure these transfers took place consistent with appropriate security and humane treatment measures.”
Obama, who is set to visit Saudi Arabia later this week for a Gulf Cooperation Council summit, said the timing of the transfer of the detainees was not synchronized with his trip.