The PJ Tatler

Pentagon Releases Two al-Qaeda Detainees to Saudi Arabia

The Pentagon has cut two more detainees from the prison roster at Guantanamo Bay, transferring a pair of inmates to Saudi Arabia.

Saad Muhammad Husayn Qahtani was captured in December 2001 in Pakistan. Linked to both al-Qaeda and the Taliban, he reportedly trained in Afghanistan and fought on the front lines with the Taliban.

Hamood Abdulla Hamood, a courier for an al-Qaeda recruiter facilitator and front-line al-Qaeda fighter arrested by the Pakistanis in February 2002 with a large amount of cash,  was deemed in a 2008 Defense Department assessment to be “a HIGH risk, as he is likely to pose a threat to the US, its interests, and allies” and a “HIGH threat from a detention perspective.”

“As directed by the President’s Jan. 22, 2009, executive order, the interagency Guantanamo Review Task Force conducted a comprehensive review of these cases. As a result of that review, which examined a number of factors, including security issues, these men were designated for transfer by consensus of the six departments and agencies comprising the task force. In accordance with congressionally-mandated reporting requirements, the administration informed Congress of its intent to transfer these individuals,” the Pentagon said in a statement this morning.

“The United States is grateful to the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for its willingness to support ongoing U.S. efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. The United States coordinated with the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to ensure these transfers took place with appropriate security and humane treatment assurances.”

That leaves 160 detainees at Gitmo.

This follows the transfer of two detainees to Algeria at the beginning of the month.

Djamel Saiid Ali Ameziane was captured by Pakistani forces in 2001 while trying to flee Tora Bora with other al-Qaeda operatives. A 2008 assessment determined Ameziane a “high risk, as he is likely to pose a threat to the US, its interests, and allies.”

Bensayah Belkecem was arrested by Bosnian authorities in 2001 for involvement in a terrorist plot against the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo. His 2008 DoD assessment noted he was not only a high risk to the U.S. but held high intelligence value.