Guantanamo has 61 prisoners left after 15 released


Sunrise over Guantanamo Bay detention camps on Sunday, 14 August 2016.  Fifteen detainees gained their freedom this weekend. Photo by George Edwards.

Today the Pentagon announced that 15 detainees were transferred for resettlement from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to the United Arab Emirates.

Six of the detainees were released after a “comprehensive review” pursuant to President Obama’s 22 January 2009 executive order, by the Guantanamo Review Task Force. This task force, comprising six departments and agencies, unanimously approved release of the following 6 detainees:  al-Busi, Sulayman, Kazaz, al-Muhajari, al-Adahi, and al-Mudafari.

The other nine detainees were released following Periodic Review Boards (PRBs), authorized by President Obama’s 2011 executive order, that calls representatives of 6 departments or agencies to assess if continued detention “remain[s] necessary to protect against a continuing significant threat to the security of the United States”. These 9 detainees are:  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.

PRBs consist 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.

My visit to Guantanamo Bay this weekend

I was at Guantanamo Bay yesterday, Sunday the 14th, and was briefed by the Chief of the Joint Detention Group, Rear Admiral Clarke. The topic of reduction in number of detainees was discussed. However, he did not mention that the number of detainees at Guantanamo Bay was that weekend decreasing by 20%, from 76 detainees on Friday to only 61 detainees by Monday.

He and others we met with on Saturday and Sunday did discuss the justification for having almost 2000 Joint Detention Force personal for fewer than 100 detains, and that is because staffing is linked in part to structures and facilities, and not linked specifically to individual detainees or the number of individual detainees.

Guantanamo Prisoner Released to Serbia After Periodic Review Board (PRB)

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Secretary of State John Kerry announced transfer of 2 detainees to Serbia for Humanitarian Resettlement

Guantanamo hearings continue to lead to inmates being released from the island prison. On 11 July 2016, following a Periodic Review Board (PRB), the U.S. released a Yemeni detainee, Mansur Ahmad Saad al-Dayf, to Serbia for humanitarian resettlement. The Periodic Review Boards were instituted following a 2011 Executive Order issued by President Obama, and has helped whittle down the number of Guantanamo Detainees to 76, from a high of almost 800.

Today, another detainee, Muhammadi Davlatov, from Tajikistan, was also released to Serbia. He was cleared for released not through a PRB, but through another process, the 2009-2010 Executive Order Task Force.

This week, on 14 July 2016, another detainee is having his PRB, hoping to plead for his release. Ismael Ali Faraj Ali Bakush, from Libya, will likely ask a the Board for release to Libya or to a third country. I have requested permission to observe this PRB at a remote location near the Pentagon. I will keep you updated as to whether the Pentagon grants permission to review the hearing, which is meant to be “public” and “transparent”.

At a PRB, the detainee makes arguments to a cross-section of representatives from agencies within the US National Security community (Departments of State, Defense, Justice &Homeland Security; Office of the Director of National Intelligence; Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff).  Detainees argue that they are not a threat to the national security of the U.S., and will not get involved in terrorist activity when they are released. For more information on Periodic Review Boards, please check the Periodic Review Board (PRB) Project website.

Following is a Press Statement by Secretary of State John Kerry on the 2 detainees transferred to Serbia today:

Serbia Offers Two Former Guantanamo Detainees Humanitarian Resettlement

Press Statement

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
July 11, 2016

The United States is grateful to the Republic of Serbia for offering humanitarian resettlement to two individuals formerly in U.S. custody at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention facility.

On July 11, the Department of Defense announced the transfer of a Tajik national, Muhammadi Davlatov, and a Yemeni national, Mansur Ahmad Saad al-Dayfi, to Serbia. Each detainee was unanimously approved for transfer by six U.S. government departments and agencies: Mr. Davlatov through the 2009-2010 Executive Order Task Force, and Mr. al-Dayfi by the more recent Periodic Review Board process. Serbia joins 30 other countries which, since 2009, have extended resettlement opportunities to over 100 detainees.

The United States appreciates the generous assistance of Serbia as the United States continues its efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. This significant humanitarian gesture is consistent with Serbia’s leadership on the global stage.