Today’s moment of “DUH!” brought to you by Yemen.
Freed by the U.S., Saudi Becomes a Qaeda Chief
BEIRUT, Lebanon — The emergence of a former Guantánamo Bay detainee as the deputy leader of Al Qaeda’s Yemeni branch has underscored the potential complications in carrying out the executive order President Obama signed Thursday that the detention center be shut down within a year.
The militant, Said Ali al-Shihri, is suspected of involvement in a deadly bombing of the United States Embassy in Yemen’s capital, Sana, in September. He was released to Saudi Arabia in 2007 and passed through a Saudi rehabilitation program for former jihadists before resurfacing with Al Qaeda in Yemen.
His status was announced in an Internet statement by the militant group and was confirmed by an American counterterrorism official.
“They’re one and the same guy,” said the official, who insisted on anonymity because he was discussing an intelligence analysis. “He returned to Saudi Arabia in 2007, but his movements to Yemen remain unclear.”
The development came as Republican legislators criticized the plan to close the Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, detention camp in the absence of any measures for dealing with current detainees. But it also helps explain why the new administration wants to move cautiously, taking time to work out a plan to cope with the complications.
Almost half the camp’s remaining detainees are Yemenis, and efforts to repatriate them depend in part on the creation of a Yemeni rehabilitation program — partly financed by the United States — similar to the Saudi one. Saudi Arabia has claimed that no graduate of its program has returned to terrorism.
“The lesson here is, whoever receives former Guantánamo detainees needs to keep a close eye on them,” the American official said.
Although the Pentagon has said that dozens of released Guantánamo detainees have “returned to the fight,” its claim is difficult to document, and has been met with skepticism. In any case, few of the former detainees, if any, are thought to have become leaders of a major terrorist organization like Al Qaeda in Yemen, a mostly homegrown group that experts say has been reinforced by foreign fighters.
Long considered a haven for jihadists, Yemen, a desperately poor country in the southern corner of the Arabian Peninsula, has witnessed a rising number of attacks over the past year. American officials say they suspect that Mr. Shihri may have been involved in the car bombings outside the American Embassy in Sana last September that killed 16 people, including six attackers.
In the Internet statement, Al Qaeda in Yemen identified its new deputy leader as Abu Sayyaf al-Shihri, saying he returned from Guantánamo to his native Saudi Arabia and then traveled to Yemen “more than 10 months ago.” That corresponds roughly to the return of Mr. Shihri, a Saudi who was released from Guantánamo in November 2007. Abu Sayyaf is a nom de guerre, commonly used by jihadists in place of their real name or first name.
A Saudi security official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Mr. Shihri had disappeared from his home in Saudi Arabia last year after finishing the rehabilitation program.
What a total mindblower!!! Jihadi rehab in Saudi Barbaria didn’t take! And of course B Hussein Obama wants to shut Guantanamo Bay Resort down and move scumbags like this IN TO THE UNITED STATES PRISON SYSTEM. And that fat sumbitch John Murtha wants to move terrorists into our back yards in Pennsylvania.