Stop the Gitmo Closing Now

Monday, 28 Dec 2009 09:31 PM

By Frank Gaffney

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ABC News reports that “two of the four leaders allegedly behind the al-Qaida plot to blow up a Northwest Airlines passenger jet over Detroit were released by the U.S. from the Guantanamo prison in November 2007, according to American officials and Department of Defense documents.”

If true, any further action to close the state-of-the-art detention facility popularly known as Gitmo and transfer its occupants elsewhere – particularly to Yemen – must be suspended at once. Should President Obama fail to do so, Congress must adopt that direction, possibly followed with a resolution of impeachment.

These two terrorists were Saudi nationals, Muhamad Attik al-Harbi (Guantanamo prisoner No.333) and Said Ali Shari (prisoner No. 372), according to Defense Department records ABC cited. They were released from Gitmo on Nov. 9, 2007, by the George W. Bush administration and sent to Saudi Arabia, “where they entered into an ‘art therapy rehabilitation program.’” Afterwards, “they were set free,” according to U.S. and Saudi officials

Al-Harbi subsequently changed his name to Muhamad al-Awfi. ABC reported: “Both Saudi nationals have since emerged in leadership roles in Yemen, according to U.S. officials and the men's own statements on al-Qaida propaganda tapes.

Both of the former Guantanamo detainees are described as military commanders and appear on a January 2009 video along with the man described as the top leader of al-Qaida in Yemen, Abu Basir Naser al-Wahishi, formerly Osama bin Laden's personal secretary
.
These are hardly the only detainees released from Guantanamo Bay to return to the fight. The known recidivism rate is said to be on the order of 15 percent; the actual number presumably is much higher.

For the first time, however, ABC News quoted an unnamed American official giving lie to the notion that those turned over for “rehabilitation” were being dissuaded from reengaging in jihad: “‘The so-called rehabilitation programs are a joke,’ a U.S. diplomat said in describing the Saudi efforts with released Guantanamo detainees.”

Even Saudi officials were reported to have acknowledged that the kingdom’s
“program has had its ‘failures’,” although they insisted that “overall, the effort has helped return potential terrorists to a meaningful life.”
The ABC report caustically described how one Saudi rehabilitation program "gives the former detainees paints and crayons as part of the rehabilitation regimen.” Imagine the contempt the former Gitmo prisoners feel for successive American governments that thought such treatment would transform them from hardened jihadists. The only thing more preposterous is the notion that shariah-adherent Saudis would try to encourage their co-religionists to eschew “holy war.”

Evidently, the Obama administration is not even bothering with such a ludicrous fig leaf. It is now returning Gitmo detainees directly to Yemen even though “a similar rehabilitation program [there] was stopped because so many of the detainees quickly joined with al-Qaida or its affiliates,” according to ABC.

As former federal prosecutor and National Review columnist Andy McCarthy has observed, with the decision to release terrorists not only to Yemen but also Somalia and Afghanistan, we might as well drop the pretense of a middleman and acknowledge that we are turning them over to al-Qaida itself.

As if to underscore the point, the organization’s franchise in Yemen, which calls itself “al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula,” has taken credit for having dispatched Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab on the plane to Detroit. ABC noted that its two-page written statement called him “a ‘hero’ and a ‘martyr’ and lauded him for beating U.S. intelligence.”

It added ominously that, “The statement also asks for attacks upon Americans in the Arabian peninsula, and promises further attacks on the American people.”

On Monday from his vacation retreat in Hawaii, President Obama reiterated what seems an increasingly hollow promise: “We will continue to do everything that we can to keep America safe in the new year and beyond.”

As long, however, as the president fails to recognize what defines our enemies — namely, their adherence to the totalitarian, seditious program known as shariah — his administration will not be able to keep us safe from the threat they pose, let alone defeat them.

And if Mr. Obama persists in trying to shutter Guantanamo Bay and, in the process, winds up repopulating our foes’ ranks with those properly and necessarily detained there, he will only embolden shariah’s adherents to kill many more of us. That would breach his oath of office, and surely constitute grounds for his impeachment.


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