Tags: Afghanistan | Al-Qaida | Middle East | Syria | War on Terrorism | WSJ | Syria

WSJ: Earlier Group of Freed Guantanamo Detainees Returned to Violence

By    |   Wednesday, 04 Jun 2014 09:34 AM

Three Guantanamo detainees that were freed by the United States 10 years ago on the assumption they would not return to terrorist causes rejoined one of the most violent Islamist groups fighting in Syria's civil war, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The episode raises questions about President Barack Obama's release last weekend of five high-level detainees in the prisoner swap for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the Journal said.

A decade ago, the Moroccan government had given assurances that the freed detainees would not return to violence, and similarly, in the most recent deal the Qatari government agreed to monitor ex-detainees and prevent them from returning to the battlefield.

To date, however, nearly 29 percent of the 614 detainees released from Guantanamo Bay prison have returned to violence, according to the Journal.

All three men that were released a decade ago trained in Afghanistan in the year before the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States.

After being captured in the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, they were detained and sent to Guantanamo as "enemy combatants," two of which the Pentagon considered to be high risk and likely to pose a threat to the United States.

Their time in prison likely made them more hardened to helping al-Qaida causes, and their detention raised them to virtual hero status among groups who saw them as a symbol of defiance of the United States, according to the Journal.

Two were released in 2004 and repatriated to Morocco, and the third returned in 2006.

The Moroccan government tracked all three of the men upon their return, and two spent time in prison for recruiting al-Qaida members. But this undermined their ability to secure employment or reintegrate into society, which may have been a factor for their return to al-Qaida-linked violence in Syria, joining the group Harakat Sham, according to the Journal.

Two are now dead from fighting Syrian forces, while a third is still working for the hardline Sunni Muslim jihadists.

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Three Guantanamo detainees that were freed by the United States 10 years ago on the assumption they would not return to terrorist causes rejoined one of the most violent Islamist groups fighting in Syria's civil war, The Wall Street Journal reported.
WSJ, Syria, Gitmo, detainees, terrorism
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2014-34-04
Wednesday, 04 Jun 2014 09:34 AM
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