The Pentagon confirmed Monday that the United States released a total of 15 Guantanamo detainees, 12 Yemeni nationals and three Afghans, to the United Arab Emirates in the single largest release from the facility under Obama’s watch.
While the Pentagon didn’t divulge any further details on its website, the Department of Defense issued a statement providing the names of the transferred detainees:
Most of the information about the released detainees is classified, however The Weekly Standard has compiled a few details about the men “based on leaked and declassified documents.”
Here’s what we know:
All 15 detainees released to the UAE are considered high-risk, “red-light” detainees, according to Joint Task Force – Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO), the military division in charge of administration at Gimto. The Weekly Standard explains how the JTF-GTMO risk-assessment classification system works:
The entire detainee population was placed into one of three categories: green (low risk), yellow (medium risk), and red (high risk). JTF-GTMO considered the detainees in the last category—the so-called red-light detainees—to be the highest risk and generally recommended that they be retained in the Defense Department's custody. JTF-GTMO deemed all 15 of the detainees transferred to the UAE to be red-light detainees.
The 15 detainees were listed at the “red-light” risk level before President Obama assumed power in 2009.
Upon taking seat at the Oval Office, Obama initiated his own Guantanamo Review Task Force. That task force also determined that many of the men later released by the Obama administration were dangerous. Eight of the 15 men were deemed "too dangerous to transfer but not feasible for prosecution," while another man was recommended for prosecution, meaning that the official recommendation was that 9 of the 15 remain in U.S. custody. The other six men were Yemenis held in "conditional detention."
However, these assessments later changed. Here’s the DoD’s statement detailing the decision of the Periodic Review Board (the Gitmo review board team established by President Obama’s executive order in March 7, 2011) to release the 9 detainees previously deemed to be “too dangerous to transfer” by the JTF-GTMO:
Periodic Review Boards consisting of representatives from the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Justice, and State; the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence determined continued law of war detention of 9 of the 15: al-Mujahid, Jarabh, Kamin, bin Hamdoun, al-Razak (aka Haji Hamidullah), Ahmed, Salih, Obaidullah, and al-Marwalah does not remain necessary to protect against a continuing significant threat to the security of the United States. As a result of those reviews, which examined a number of factors, including security issues, al-Mujahid, Jarabh, Kamin, bin Hamdoun, al-Razak (aka Haji Hamidullah), Ahmed, Salih, Obaidullah, and al-Marwalah were recommended for transfer by consensus of the six departments and agencies comprising the Periodic Review Board.
The PRB’s slightly less severe assessment of the detainees’ risk level somewhat contradicts the JTF-GTMO’s “red-light” classification, leading some to believe that the PRB process is politicized.
With the recidivism rate of released terrorists at nearly 30%, it's a virtual certainty that at least some of the 15 men released to the UAE will rejoin terror groups or engage in hostile activities against the United States.
Most of the men released were captured while fighting or conspiring against U.S. troops in Afghanistan or Iraq. Some were even detained for fighting in the battles of Tora Bora. Many have links to al-Qaeda. In other words, the Obama administration has put American lives at risk to save face politically.
The prisoner population at Guantanamo Bay is now down to 61. President Obama has pledged to transfer all remaining inmates out of the detention facilities by the end of his term.