US Airstrikes in Yemen Kill Former Gitmo Detainee

Boys gather near a building damaged by a US drone air strike targeting suspected al Qaeda militants in Azan in the southeastern Yemeni province of Shabwa on Feb 3. Reuters

A Yemeni in the capital Sanaa walks past graffiti protesting US drone operations.

On the other hand, we finally do have one identified victim among the flurry of strikes in the past five days, with reports that former Gitmo detainee Yasir al-Silmi was slain.

The Pentagon said on Monday that a March 2 strike against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen killed a former detainee from the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

There are 41 detainees left at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.

In a statement, the Pentagon added that he was also known as Mohammed Tahar and was repatriated from Guantanamo Bay in 2009 to Yemen.

While Obama assured the U.S.in December that only "low-level" terrorist operatives had been released from Guantanamo Bay, the emergence of former detainees taking on high-level roles in terror groups has undermined that message.

"The attacks are "to keep the pressure on the terrorists and deny them access and freedom of movement within traditional safe havens", he said, and added "[Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula] has taken advantage of ungoverned spaces in Yemen to plot, direct and inspire terrorist attacks against the United States. Some lawmakers have long opposed releasing detainees because of concerns about those men posing a security threat to the United States.

Former President Barack Obama tried to speed the release of Guantanamo detainees towards the ends of his administration, raising the ire of congressional Republicans. The scale of that risk has been disputed by supporters of the transfers.

The Pentagon did not say when in 2009 al-Silmi was released, so it is unclear whether he was released by former President George W. Bush or former President Obama.

Related:

Comments


Other news