As predicted by an anonymous government official in late April, President Barack Obama approved the transfer of six more detainees from Guantanamo Bay to Oman on Friday evening.
The recent transfer marks the first under new Defense Secretary Ash Carter, just as Congress is considering additional restrictions on detainee transfer via the defense budget bill, The New York Times reports.
All 6 are Yemenis, and have been stuck in Gitmo since near the beginning of 2002. Approval for transfer came in 2010, so long as security conditions in the host country were satisfactory.
The six include Idris Ahmad ’Abd Al Qadir Idris, Sharaf Ahmad Muhammad Mas’ud, Jalal Salam Awad Awad, Saa’d Nasser Moqbil Al Azani, Emad Abdallah Hassan and Muhammad Ali Salem Al Zarnuki.
Idris and Awad were apparently Osama bin Laden’s bodyguards.
GOP Sen. Kelly Ayotte, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and consistent thorn in the Obama administration’s side on Gitmo, stated, “It’s extremely troubling that the Obama administration has sent six dangerous terrorists to Oman, which borders Yemen-a country engulfed in civil war and that serves as the headquarters for al Qaeda’s most dangerous affiliate.” The White House has threatened to veto the House’s defense bill because of additional restrictions imposed on the transfer process.
“Even more disturbing is the fact that the administration has not provided sufficient assurances to Congress or to the public that these terrorists will not return to the battlefield,” she added. “If they are not securely detained, no one should be surprised if they travel to Yemen and re-engage in terrorist activities.”
At least one of the brothers involved in the January Paris terrorist attack traveled from Oman to Yemen for training by al-Qaida.
A total of 116 detainees remain in Guantanamo, which is half the original number of 242. Of those prisoners left, 51 have been cleared for release.
“We are working feverishly to transfer each of the 51 detainees currently approved for transfer,” Ian Moss, who works at the State Department, told ABC News. “It is not in our national security interest to continue to detain individuals if we as a government have determined that they can be transferred from Guantanamo responsibly.”