Tags: Yemen | Guantanamo | training | Qaida

Former Guantanamo Detainees Lead Al-Qaida Terror Training in Yemen

Tuesday, 29 December 2009 10:36 PM

SANA'A, YEMEN - Former detainees of the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have led and fueled the growing assertiveness of the al-Qaeda branch that claimed responsibility for the attempted Christmas Day bombing of a U.S. airliner, potentially complicating the Obama administration's efforts to shut down the facility.

They include two Saudi nationals: al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's deputy leader, Said al-Shihri, and the group's chief theological advisor, Ibrahim Suleiman al Rubaish. Months after their release to Saudi Arabia, both crossed the kingdom's porous border into Yemen and rejoined the terrorist network.

Both Shihri and Rubaish were released under the Bush administration, as was a Yemeni man killed in a government raid earlier this month while allegedly plotting an attack on the British Embassy. A Yemeni official said Tuesday that the government thinks he is the first Yemeni to have joined al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula after being released from Guantanamo.

That a group partially led by former Guantanamo detainees may have equipped and trained Nigerian bombing suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is likely to raise more questions about plans to repatriate those prisoners to Yemen. Six were released last week, and there are now 80 Yemenis left at Guantanamo, nearly half the remaining detainee population. Many are heavily radicalized with strong ties to extremist individuals or groups in Yemen, according to U.S. officials and terrorism analysts.

Republicans have in recent months urged the Obama administration to rethink sending detainees to Yemen. They have cited al-Qaeda's growing footprint in the country, its instability and the case of Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, who allegedly killed 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas, after exchanging e-mails with a radical Yemeni-American cleric.

"This is a very dangerous policy that threatens the safety and security of the U.S, people," said Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.).

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Tuesday, 29 December 2009 10:36 PM
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