Saudi Arabia Detainees Released From Guantanamo Bay Prison Camp

Two Guantanamo Bay detainees from Saudi Arabia have been released and returned to their government.

The move comes as a sign the US is moving to close the detention facility, something President Obama vowed to do before taking office and has proven more difficult than originally thought.

According to US officials, the two Saudi Arabia nationals were released following a review of their security status.

In a statement from the Pentagon, the men have been identified as 35-year-old Saad Muhammad Husayn Qahtani and 48-year-old Hamood Abdulla Hamood. In 2009, both men were recommended for transfer.

US records indicate the men were suspected members of al Qaeda and were considered to be at high risk of rejoining the terror group if released from the camp. However, neither man has been charged with a crime.

Up to this point, dozens of Saudi Arabia citizens have been transferred to their country and after completing a rehabilitation program, have been released.

The Pentagon said Monday that with the transfer to Saudi Arabia of the two detainees, the Guantanamo Bay population now stands at 160 prisoners.

Paul Lewis, the Defense Department’s special envoy for closing the prison at Guantanamo, thanked the kingdom of Saudi Arabia for accepting the detainees.

“The United States coordinated with the government of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia to ensure these transfers took place with appropriate security assurances and in a way that is consistent with our humane treatment policy.”

Saudi Arabia has been a supporter of US efforts to shut down the controversial prison as many of its citizens have been kept in the facility for years without official charges being filed.

However, the US claims it has been able to obtain critical information from high-value prisoners that has, on occasion, foiled attacks.

After the September 11, 2001 attacks, Guantanamo Bay, located in Cuba, was used to hold captured al Qaeda leaders or suspected terrorists.

Saudi Arabia acknowledged that 15 out of the 19 hijackers that crashed two planes into the Twin Towers, one into the Pentagon, and a fourth one in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania were citizens.

Terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden was also a citizen of Saudi Arabia as are countless other members of al Qaeda.

In January of 2002, then Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld said Gitmo was established to detain extraordinarily dangerous prisoners, interrogate them, and prosecute them for war crimes against the US and its allies.

The release of the two Saudi Arabia nationals follows the revelation that the CIA turned some of the Guantanamo Bay prisoners into double agents against al Qaeda. The last prisoner arrived at Gitmo in 2008