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Homeland Security

Saudi Guantanamo Prisoner Repatriated

by Victoria Macchi January 11, 2016

The Pentagon says it repatriated a Saudi man from the Guantanamo U.S. military prison in Cuba, amid renewed claims by the Obama administration that the president will shutter the facility during his last year in office.

The Defense Department announced Monday it had released Muhammed Abd Al Rahman Awn Al-Shamrani to his home country.

According to Defense Department documents leaked in 2011, Pakistani forces captured the now-40-year-old Al-Shamrani in December 2001 after he fled a training camp in Afghanistan with al-Qaida and Taliban fighters.

The military document identified him as an 'extremist recruiter' and member of al-Qaida. A military review board determined in September 2014, however, that Al-Shamrani does not pose a significant security threat to the U.S.

Al-Shamrani was never charged or convicted in his nearly 14 years at Guantanamo.

President Barack Obama has for years supported closing the facility that has housed foreign terror suspects for 14 years, but there remain 103 detainees from a publicly acknowledged peak of nearly 800. He signed an executive order in 2009 to close the prison, also known as Gitmo, within a year.

Obama's intention

White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough reiterated in a television interview Sunday that in his last year in office, Obama intends to shut down the controversial facility, which received its first detainees on Jan. 11, 2002 following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the U.S.

Hundreds of prisoners have been repatriated or transferred to third-party countries.

Allegations of abuse, torture, and illegal detention have plagued the prison.

Naureen Shah, director of Amnesty International USA's Security and Human Rights program, wrote in a statement last week that the military prison "has become an international symbol of torture, rendition and indefinite detention without charge or trial."

"Closing Guantanamo doesn't just mean moving prisoners to another detention site and turning out the lights at the prison. It means ending these practices altogether and providing accountability for past abuses," she added.

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