Dozens of captives verified by the U.S. to reengage in terrorist activity after being released from the military prison in Guantanamo Bay are at large, a recently declassified intelligence report reveals. Recidivism among detainees freed from the compound at the U.S. Naval base in southeast Cuba—also known as Gitmo or GTMO—is nothing new and has been well documented for years by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). In its latest disturbing update, ODNI discloses that the whereabouts of 69 former Gitmo detainees that the government is certain returned to terrorism is unknown.
In all, 729 detainees have been released from Gitmo since the prison opened nearly two decades ago and the ODNI says 125 have been confirmed as reengaging in terrorism, though the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) put the figure at 130. The top security facility houses the world’s most dangerous Islamic terrorists, including 9/11 masterminds Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), Ramzi Binalshibh, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, and Mustafa Ahmed Adam al Hawsawi as well as USS Cole bomber Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. “Based on trends identified during the past 17 years, we assess that some detainees currently at GTMO will seek to reengage in terrorist or insurgent activities after they are transferred,” the latest ODNI report states, reiterating language used in past reports. “Transfers to countries with ongoing conflicts and internal instability as well as recruitment by insurgent and terrorist organizations could pose an increased risk of reengagement.”
There has been no shortage of examples of Gitmo captives rejoining terrorist missions after the U.S. let them go. Judicial Watch has reported on it extensively after obtaining both domestic and international documents involving the matter. Examples of recidivism among freed Gitmo jihadists include dozens who have rejoined Al Qaeda in Yemen, the country where the 2009 Christmas Day airline bomber proudly trained, and several high-ranking Al Qaeda militants in Yemen involved in a sophisticated scheme to send bombs on a U.S.-bound cargo plane. A Gitmo alum named Mullah Abdul Rauf, who once led a Taliban unit, established the first Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) base in Afghanistan. Another, Sabir Mahfouz Lahmar, was arrested in France as part of a terrorist cell that operated an ISIS recruiting network. The Obama administration released Lahmar even though his Department of Defense (DOD) file says he has links to “multiple terrorist plots” and as a member of the Algerian Armed Islamic Group (GIA) plotted with Al Qaeda to attack the United States Embassy in Sarajevo.
The George W. Bush administration also released quite a few Gitmo captives confirmed by the ODNI to be “directly involved in terrorist or insurgent activities.” Among them is a Saudi national, Ibrahim al-Rubaysh, repatriated under a Saudi Arabian “rehabilitation” program that supposedly reforms Gitmo jihadists but instead has served as a training camp for future terrorists. Years after releasing al-Rubaysh, a known Al Qaeda operative, the U.S. government put him on a global terrorist list and offered $5 million for information on his whereabouts! The State Department even classified the “senior leader” of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) a Specially Designated Global Terrorist. “He serves as a senior advisor for AQAP operational planning and is involved in the planning of attacks,” according to a State Department announcement. “He has served as a senior AQAP sharia official since 2013, and as a senior AQAP sharia official, al-Rubaysh provides the justification for attacks conducted by AQAP. In addition, he has made public statements, including one in August 2014 where he called on Muslims to wage war against the United States.”
Just a few months ago, the DOD cleared for release an Al Qaeda operative classified as a “forever prisoner” because he was once considered too dangerous to be freed. His name is Said Salih Said Nashir and his DOD file says he has ties to 9/11 conspirator Walid Bin Attash and trained at the infamous al-Faruq camp in Afghanistan to participate in terrorist operations against U.S. forces in Karachi, Pakistan and inside the U.S. The document labels Nashir a high risk likely to pose a threat to the U.S. A few years ago the Office of Military Commission’s parole board denied the Yemen national release, determining that “continued law of war detention of the detainee remains necessary to protect against a continuing significant threat to the security of the United States.”