For the third time since his election at the president US President Barack Obama has reiterated on Monday his determination to close down Guantanamo Bay terror penitentiary and arrange for all detainees to be repatriated back to their country of origins.
So far, US President Obama’s efforts have been thwarted by Congress, as many lawmakers have voiced strong national security reservations, arguing that the release of potential terror militants onto the wild would harm America’s interests in the long run.
US President Obama, however, has argued has argued that if anything is harming the US it is Guantanamo and its indefinite forced detention culture.
"The Guantanamo facility continues to drain our resources and harm our standing in the world," White House press secretary Jay Carney said in a statement on Monday, highlighting President Obama’ stance on Gitmo.
With dozens of its nationals behind bars, Yemen, more than any other country in the world can emphasize with Gitmo detainees’ plight, and relate to prisoners’ yearning for home.
Beyond a simple judicial matter, or even a matter of national security, it is detainees’ suffering and psychological which Yemenis have most difficult to bear. Cut off from their family, their country, their environment and culture, Yemen terror detainees have languished, some for over a decade, without any hope of ever recovering their freedom, regardless of whether or not a court established their innocence.
Abdel Malik Ahmed Abdel Wahab al-Rahabi, a 34 year-old Yemeni from Ibb (central province of Yemen) is one of those men. Al-Rahabi has been held without trial in Guantanamo for the past 12 years. On Tuesday, his lawyer, David Remes, urged a military board to recommend his repatriation back to Yemen.
According to a statement, al-Rahabi wishes to return to his hometown and resume his life away from conflict and violence; teach, start a “milk and honey farm” or maybe join in the family tailoring business.
Although al-Rahabi was never tried due to a lack of acceptable and receivable evidence, the military has nevertheless argues that he presents too much of a direct terror threat for the reviewing committee to consider his transfer.
As per registered in his military profile, US military officials feel “he is almost certainly a member of al-Qaeda.” The report alleges that because al-Rahabi’s brother was a prominent al-Qaeda militant, he has become a terror asset and a likely candidate for high-jacking plot as he “may have been selected by al-Qaeda” while in Pakistan in 2001.
“The marginal security environment in Ibb probably would give Mr. Rahabi ample opportunities to join a branch of Al Qaeda in Yemen if he decided to do so, a profile summary read.
Set up by US President Obama, the military’s new Periodic Review Board system aims to evaluate each candidate’s potential release or transfer back to their home country for further processing.
It is important to note that should al-Rahabi happen to be cleared for release, it is likely he will remain put for some time as Sana’a and Washington have yet to agree on the terms of Gitmo detainees’ transfer.
Home to the most dangerous and active branch of al-Qaeda, Yemen will have to first prove it can handle its terror returnees before any final decision can be made.
Earlier this January, Mahmoud al-Mujahid, another Yemeni national was cleared by the review committee and put up on the approved returnee list.
While evidently Guantanamo will not close in a day, rights activists believe now that enough political exists to secure a solution to detainees’ judicial limbo.