Guantanamo Bay prison released 5 Yemeni prisoners and transferred them overseas after more then twelve years of being held captive. NBC reports that this announcement came late on Wednesday from the Department of Defense.
The prisoners were detained in Pakistan by the United States and were suspected to be al-Qaida fighters. It was later determined that the five men (Al Khadr Abdallah Muhammad Al Yafi, Fadel Hussein Saleh Hentif, Abd Al-Rahman Abdullah Au Shabati, Mohammed Ahmed Salam, and Akhmed Abdul Qadir) were no threat, but the United States struggled to find countries that would take the men in, according to AOL.
Four of the prisoners were transferred to Oman and the fifth was sent to Estonia. NBC reports that a statement was issued by the Department of Defense, quoted below.
“The United States is grateful to the government of Oman for its humanitarian gesture and willingness to support ongoing U.S. efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility… The United States coordinated with the government of Oman to ensure these transfers took place consistent with appropriate security and humane treatment measures.”
President Barack Obama came into his presidency saying he was going to close the Naval Base prison, but his efforts were continually blocked by Congress. The unwillingness of Congress to cooperate has made transferring any of the prisoners out of the base almost impossible, until December 2013 when Congress decided to ease the restrictions on transfers, according to AOL.
There are now 122 prisoners left at Guantanamo Bay, and of those men, 54 are approved for transfer.
“We are committed to closing the detention facility. That’s our goal and we are working toward that goal,” says Ian Moss, a spokesperson for the Department of Defense.
Several members of Congress have been opposed to releasing prisoners, saying that Guantanamo Bay is necessary to be able to detain suspected terrorists. AOL reports that on Tuesday, Republican senators proposed transfer restrictions that was stop any transfers to Yemen for 2 years and suspend the transfer of any prisoners that were classified as high-risk or medium-risk.
“Now is not the time to be emptying Guantanamo,” Sen. Kelly Ayottee said at a news conference, during which she warned of fresh terrorist threats.
Now that prisoners are being released, and several are also approved for release from the prison, the question is, when will this prison finally close for good? According to a previous report by the Inquisitr, the increase in the number of prisoners being released does not ensure closure by 2015.
[Photo courtesy of Tim Dirven/Panos via Newsweek]