News & Politics

Obama Administration Releases 'High Risk' Gitmo Detainee to Ghana

FILE - In this June 27, 2006 file photo, reviewed by a US Department of Defense official, US military guards walk within Camp Delta military-run prison, at the Guantanamo Bay US Naval Base, Cuba. President Barack Obama's stated desire to try anew to close the Guantanamo Bay prison remains a tough sell in Congress. The White House may look instead toward smaller steps, such as a new push to move some terror suspects overseas. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, file)

The government of Ghana announced that they have accepted two detainees formerly held at the Guantanamo prison camp, after their being cleared by the U.S. government.

The statement on the transfer from Ghana was, to put it mildly, misleading. The Long War Journal reports that the Obama administration designated the two terrorists for “conditional detention,” but Ghana says they will release them after two years and allow them to return to Yemen.

The government of Ghana said in a statement that it was providing “humanitarian assistance” by taking in the pair, as well as refugees from Rwanda and Syria.

“At the request of the US Government, we have also agreed to accept two detainees of Yemeni origin who were detained in Guantanamo but have been cleared of any involvement in terrorist activities, and are being released,” Ghana’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Regional Integration claimed. “They are unable to return to Yemen at the moment, and we have indicated our willingness to accept them for a period of two years, after which they may leave the country.”

But Ghana’s statement is not accurate. Neither Bin Atef, nor Al Dhuby has been “cleared of any involvement in terrorist activities.” And they are not supposed to be outright “released.”

Furthermore, the Guantanamo Review Task Force designated one of the terrorists — Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef — is at “high risk” to resume his terrorist ways.

In a memo dated Dec. 28, 2007, JTF-GTMO determined that Bin Atef (seen on the right) was a “high risk,” who is “likely to pose a threat to the US, its interests, and allies.” As such, JTF-GTMO recommended that he remain in the Defense Department’s custody.

Bin Atef was allegedly recruited in a mosque in Saudi Arabia by a facilitator who arranged his trip to Afghanistan. Once there, Bin Atef was admitted to al Qaeda’s Al Farouq training camp. JTF-GTMO’s analysts found an especially interesting nugget of information concerning Bin Atef’s training.

While in custody, Bin Atef identified one of his trainers as jihadist known as “Abu Hurayah.” JTF-GTMO concluded that this same “Abu Hurayah” was in fact Qasim Yahya al Raymi, the current head of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Al Raymi, whose brother is still detained at Guantanamo, is known to have served as an instructor at Al Farouq.

In the leaked threat assessment, Bin Atef is described as a “fighter” in Osama bin Laden’s “former 55th Arab Brigade” and as “an admitted member of the Taliban.” The 55th Arab Brigade “served as [bin Laden’s] primary battle formation supporting Taliban objectives, with [bin Laden] participating closely in the command and control of the brigade.” This fighting force was overseen by Abdul Hadi al Iraqi, who once served in Saddam Hussein’s military before becoming one of bin Laden’s top men. Al Iraqi is currently held in Guantanamo. Bin Atef is believed to have fought under one of al Iraqi’s direct subordinates.

Did we pull the wool over Ghana’s eyes on Bin Atef or is Ghana participating in a cynical coverup engineered by the Obama administration? Or perhaps Ghana is playing the U.S., promising to keep Bin Atef detained while their intent all along was to release him after just two years?

It hardly matters. This transfer points to why so many oppose the administration’s efforts to close Guantanamo. They can’t be trusted — at all. Their disregard for the recommendations of their own task force on prisoner transfers shows that the president is more concerned about his “legacy” than he is national security.