Two Saudis face ‘rehab’ after Guantanamo
Returning inmates to go through ‘rehabilitation’ program for militants, interior ministry says
Two Saudi inmates from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba have arrived in their home country following a U.S. transfer, and will go through the kingdom’s rehabilitation program for militants, the Interior Ministry said on Tuesday.
Saad Muhammad Husayn Qahtani and Hamood Abdulla Hamood al-Enzi will go through a rehabilitation process, known as the Counseling Program, the Saudi interior ministry spokesman General Mansur al-Turki said.
“They will be subjected to the regulations in force in the kingdom, which include benefiting from the counseling and care programs,” Reuters quoted Turki as saying.
Saudi Arabia’s program to reintegrate former Islamist militants features art and sports classes, religious instruction and psychological analysis aimed at pushing them away from interpretations of Islam that favor political violence.
A U.S. defense department document said Hamood is aged 48, while a document released by WikiLeaks indicated Qahtani is 35.
The Saudi detainees, who have been held at the Guantanamo facility in Cuba since 2002, were not charged with a crime.
Their families have been informed and arrangements have been made for them to meet up.
Meanwhile, a Pentagon official told Agence France-Presse on Monday that there were still 15 Saudis in Guantanamo, some of who are not eligible for release.
Among Guantanamo’s so-called “high value prisoners” is the self-declared mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
The latest transfers bring the total number remaining at the U.S. detention center to 160 inmates.
There were 82 inmates, including 56 Yemenis, at Guantanamo who had been cleared for release, before the pair were sent home.
On December 5, two Algerians were repatriated from Guantanamo despite the prisoners' protests they could face persecution back in their country.
U.S. President Barack Obama promised to shut down the Guantanamo Bay facility during his 2008 presidential campaign, saying it had damaged the reputation of the United States around the world.
“The U.S. has made real progress in responsibly transferring Guantanamo detainees despite the burdensome legislative restrictions that have impeded our efforts,” Reuters quoted Paul Lewis, the Pentagon’s special envoy for the closure of the facility, as saying in a statement.
But Obama has been unable to do so during nearly five years in office, in part because of resistance from Congress.
The prison was opened in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States to house suspects captured by U.S. forces and spies in anti-terror operations around the world.
(With AFP and Reuters)