Abdel Malik Ahmed Abdel Wahab al-Rahabi, accused after the September 2001 terror attacks of being Osama bin Laden’s bodyguard, has been transferred from Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba. Wahab al-Rahabi was allegedly involved in planning the attacks on New York City, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.
The Department of Defense said earlier today (June 23) that Wahab al-Rahabi has been transferred to the small European country of Montenegro.
Wahab al-Rahabi, a Yemeni national, has been imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay since 2002 after being arrested by Pakistani forces in December 2001, but he was never formally charged with the crimes he was accused of.
In addition to a possible connection to 9/11, officials suspected he may have trained for a “mission to hijack airplanes in Southeast Asia.” That attack never occurred, and Wahab al-Rahabi denied the accusations against him.
Documents filed by the Pentagon also allege that he may have been related to the late al-Qaeda leader by marriage, in addition to possibly being his bodyguard.
In 2014, a United States review board investigated bin Laden’s alleged former bodyguard and concluded that he no longer posed a threat to national security, allowing him to be transferred from Guantanamo.
The Department of Defense emphasized that all protocol was followed, and the transfer was both secure and humane.
According to the Montenegro government, Wahab al-Rahabi applied for asylum in their country and will not be held prisoner. Along with another Yemeni Guantanamo detainee who was sent to Montenegro earlier this year, Wahab al-Rahabi will be given the freedom to decide which city and country he wants to make his permanent home.
As the Inquisitr previously reported, efforts have been made this year by President Obama’s administration to close down the Guantanamo Bay (nicknamed “Gitmo”) naval base and military prison permanently. He announced his plan in February during a televised conference.
In March, 19 prisoners were released ahead of the president’s visit to Cuba.
Since his term began in 2008, the total number of prisoners on the base has fallen from 250 to 80. Several of the detainees there, like Wahab al-Rahabi, have alleged connections to the 9/11 terror attacks, which makes the possibility of a release for those individuals less likely.
Republicans in Congress, as well as the Pentagon, have been opposed to President Obama’s attempt to permanently close the detention camp, which has been open since 2002. They insist that most of the detainees there are too dangerous to release.
Just two days ago, a new proposal set forth by President Obama regarding Guantanamo was once again met with protests. The proposal suggests that Guantanamo prisoners be allowed “to plead guilty to terrorism charges in federal court by videoconference.” If the proposal becomes law, individuals suspected of being involved in acts of terror would be able to serve their prison sentences overseas after pleading guilty.
Although the videoconference plea proposal has been backed by officials in the Pentagon and State Department, Attorney General Loretta Lynch is opposed. According to Reuters, President Obama isn’t willing to overrule the head of the Justice Department, whom he appointed himself in 2014.
Surprisingly, some Republicans may support the proposal, which might not send it to final stages, but is better than no bipartisan support at all.
Videoconference pleas present the problem of voluntary vs involuntary confessions of guilt. Prisoners can easily be persuaded to plead guilty, especially since not doing so would mean they remain imprisoned in Guantanamo indefinitely.
“How would a judge assure himself that the plea is truly voluntary when if the plea is not entered, the alternative is you’re still in Gitmo? That’s the wrinkle,” an unnamed source familiar with the proposal said.
It remains to be seen whether or not the remaining Guantanamo detainees will be given similar freedom as bin Laden’s alleged bodyguard, Wahab al-Rahabi.
[Photo by Mazhar Ali Khan/AP Images]