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Guantanamo inmate transferred to Saudi Arabia

Published: Updated:

A Guantanamo Bay inmate who pleaded guilty to helping plan a 2002 attack on a French oil tanker has been transferred to Saudi Arabia, a Saudi official confirmed Thursday.

The Spokesman for the State Security said that as part of the efforts to repatriate Saudis detained abroad, citizen Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Ahmed Al-Derbi has been repatriated from Guantanamo Bay and he arrived in the kingdom at 11:55 pm Wednesday. His relatives were informed of his arrival and all facilities to meet him were arranged and provided.

The spokesman explained that he will be subject to the regulations in the Kingdom, which includes the benefit from the programs of the Mohammed bin Nayef Center for Counseling and Care.

“The Department of Defense announced today the transfer of Ahmed Mohammed Ahmed Haza al-Darbi from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay to the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” the Pentagon said in a statement.

Al-Derbi entered a plea deal in February 2014 that saw him admit to planning, aiding and supporting an attack on the MV Limburg, which killed a Bulgarian sailor, injured a dozen and caused a large oil spill in the Gulf of Aden.

Part of the plea

As part of his plea, Al-Derbi provided evidence against another Saudi Guantanamo detainee – Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who faces the death penalty on charges he masterminded the MV Limburg attack and the 2000 attack against the USS Cole in Yemen that left 17 dead.

He was sentenced to 13 years in prison, starting from the date of the plea. But the deal included a provision that after four more years at Guantanamo, he could serve the remainder of his term at a rehab center in Riyadh.

The remaining population at Guantanamo is now 40, but Trump has vowed to send more detainees to the prison, which is located on a US naval base on the southeastern tip of Cuba.

First release

Al-Derbi had pled guilty in the Guantanamo Military Commission in February of 2014. He was convicted of several counts of aiding Al Qaeda affiliates commit various acts of violence in 2002.

Al Arabiya English correspondent has reported that this is the first Guantanamo release under the Trump administration. The previous release of Guantanamo detainees took place at the end of the Obama administration.

“The dedication and discipline of our Troops has led to a smooth and well-executed transfer,” Joint Task Force Guantanamo Commander, John C. Ring said in a statement to the press.

The announcement comes the same day that Secretary of Defense James Mattis announced a new policy allowing for the transfer of more detainees to Guantanamo Bay. Currently, 40 detainees remain.