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Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp Now 10 Years Old

January 11, 2012

Today marks the 10th anniversary of the opening of the U.S. military detention camp for terrorist suspects at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

A total of 779 detainees have been incarcerated at Guantanamo Bay since the first group of captives arrived on January 11, 2002.

The U.S. government, under former President George W. Bush, set up the camp after U.S.-led forces invaded Afghanistan to attack the Al-Qaeda network, blamed for carrying out the hijacked plane attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people in the United States on September 11, 2001.

The camp was set up to hold and interrogate detainees suspected of links to Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and other groups seen by the United States as terrorist organizations.

The U.S. Department of Justice advised that the Guantanamo Bay detention camp could be considered outside U.S. legal jurisdiction.

Human rights groups have denounced Washington for running the camp, charging that blatant human rights violations occur there daily.

The CIA has acknowledged that now-banned techniques such as "waterboarding" -- or simulated drowning -- were used on several detainees.

President Barack Obama, after replacing Bush in the White House in 2009, ordered the camp closed by January 2010 but missed the deadline.

To mark today's anniversary, Amnesty International released a special report, calling the Obama administration's failure to close the facility a "toxic legacy" for human rights.

Today, only 171 of the 779 Guantanamo detainees remain in U.S. custody there.

Eleven of them have been held since the facility opened without charges brought or trials held.

Ninety-seven are from Yemen -- which faces a moratorium on Guantanamo transfers because of Al-Qaeda strongholds in some parts of the country and insecurity posed by rebellion.

In 2009, when Saudi Arabia named 85 men among the country's most wanted terrorists, 11 shared a common story. All had been detained at Guantanamo Bay, underwent a government rehabilitation program after being returned to Saudi Arabia, and then fled to Yemen where they joined Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

compiled from agency reports


Copyright (c) 2012. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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