News Column

Obama Lifts Ban on Transferring Guantanamo Inmates to Yemen

May 26, 2013

Nedra Pickler

obama, gitmo, policy

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama is lifting his self- imposed ban on transferring Guantanamo Bay detainees to Yemen, where a leadership upheaval has improved the country's security but not eliminated the terrorist organization trying to recruit jihadists.

Lifting the ban is a step toward Obama's goal of closing the Navy- run prison in Cuba since nearly 100 of the 166 terrorist suspects held there are from Yemen and have had nowhere to go even if they had been cleared for transfer. Obama wouldn't send them home and no other country was welcoming them, and their hopelessness after a decade or more of imprisonment had contributed to a hunger strike at the detention facility that helped reignite the long-stalled effort to close it.

But Obama's decision is not without risk - detainees who have been released to Yemen in the past have joined terrorist fighters in the Arab nation. The security concerns prompted Obama to suspend transfers to Yemen in January 2010 after a Nigerian man attempted to blow up a U.S.-bound flight with explosives hidden in his underwear on instructions from al-Qaida operatives in Yemen.

Yemeni watchers in the U.S. say there is reason to hope security has improved since longtime authoritarian leader Ali Abdullah Saleh was ousted after mass uprisings last year. Al-Qaida had been on the upswing under Saleh, but successor Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi has made fighting terrorism a top goal and restored cooperation with the United States in the effort.

A Yemeni official told The Associated Press that a delegation, including the country's human rights minister, returned this week after a trip to Washington, where they agreed to set up a rehabilitation center to help reintegrate detainees, with the support of the United States and other Arab nations.

(c) 2013 Tulsa World. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.

Source: Copyright Tulsa World 2013

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