Congressman Wolf urges terrorist suspects not be sent from Guantanamo to Yemen

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Press Release)–Following is the text of a letter sent on Tuesday by Congressman Frank Wolf (Republican, Virginia) urging President Barack Obama not to release terrorist suspects held at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base to Yemen or other “unstable” countries: 

December 29, 2009

The Honorable Barack H. Obama
The President
The White House
Washington DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

I have sent you and your administration the five enclosed letters since October 1 urging you not to release additional detainees from Guantanamo Bay to Yemen and other dangerously unstable countries.  In light of U.S. attacks against al Qaeda in Yemen on December 17 and 24 that reportedly targeted at least one former Guantanamo detainee, I again implore you to immediately halt these releases.

The Washington Post on December 27 reported that “Yemeni al Qaeda branch is [a] magnet for jihadists.” On the same day, the New York Times stated, “Al Qaeda’s profile in Yemen rose sharply a year ago, when a former Guantanamo Bay detainee from Saudi Arabia, Said Ali al-Shihri, fled to Yemen to join Al Qaeda and appeared in a video posted online.  Several other former Guantanamo detainees have also joined the group.”  Al Qaeda agents in Yemen also have played pivotal roles in attacks against the U.S., including the radicalization of alleged Northwest Airlines terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, alleged Fort Hood terrorist Major Nidal Hasan, and the June 1 killing of a soldier in Little Rock, Arkansas.  How many other Westerners or dual passport holders are currently in Yemen that may be exposed to similar radicalization? 

It is unconscionable that your administration would release terrorist detainees back into the clutches of al Qaeda in Yemen, Somaliland and Afghanistan as was done earlier this month.  These dangerous detainees were released under a cloak of secrecy and the American people were not informed until these individuals walked free.  Your administration still has not provided information on their past terrorist activities.  These releases are reckless and the administration’s continued concealment is a danger to the security of America.

According to published reports, at least one detainee released to Somaliland (which the U.S. does not formally recognize), Mohammed Soliman Barre, has a close personal relationship with Osama bin Laden and another released to Afghanistan, Abdul Hafiz, was implicated in a brutal murder of a Red Cross worker in 2003.  Additionally, ABC News reported that “two of the four leaders behind the al Qaeda plot to blow up a Northwest Airlines passenger jet over Detroit were released from Guantanamo prison in November 2007.”  The detainees that were released during the Bush Administration were considered to be a lower security risk than the detainees that have been released this year.  If lower threat detainees have returned to terrorist activities in such high numbers, one must assume that the remaining detainees, if released, pose a significant security threat to the U.S.

Earlier this month, I offered an amendment to the fiscal year 2010 omnibus appropriations legislation that would have required unclassified notifications about impending detainee releases.  Unfortunately, my amendment was defeated along party lines at the urging of the White House.  Your administration has a moral obligation to release the names and information — including threat analyses — about those your administration has released. Your administration also should publicly release the updated Defense Intelligence Agency report on terrorist recidivism following former Guantanamo detainees.  I have read the classified biographies of the detainees to be released.  They are dangerous people.  I am troubled by every one of the detainees who is being sent back. 
I implore you again to immediately halt these releases and answer the questions of the American people about your policies and who you are releasing.  They deserve to know.  It is inconceivable that you would release terrorist detainees to Yemen and Afghanistan at the same time you are launching missiles at terrorist targets.  Please stop these releases. 

               Frank R. Wolf
               Member of Congress

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