The White House announced this week that the US will halt the transfer of Guantanamo Bay detainees to Yemen for the time being. The White House’s decision comes on the heals of the attempted Christmas Day attack, which originated in Yemen, and sparked concerns that the country is becoming the next hot-bed of terrorism.
The new policy is long overdue. At least one dozen released inmates have rejoined al-Qaeda to fight in Yemen, The Times (UK) reports. Moreover, according to the latest US government statistics, one in five former Gitmo detainees are suspected of or are confirmed to have returned to terrorist activity – a 6 percent increase since the last report in April 2009.
According to US counterterrorism officials, several of Yemen’s top al-Qaeda operatives are former Guantanamo Bay detainees, some of whom were released into Saudi Arabia’s government-run rehabilitation program. As Jeff Sessions, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, notes, the US must also halt sending detainees to Saudi Arabia for ‘rehabilitation.’ As he concludes, “The list of failed participants in the Saudi program reads like a ‘who’s who’ of Al Qaeda terrorists on the Arabian peninsula.”