MIAMI (AP) — A Yemeni prisoner at the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, who appeared before a review panel Tuesday was a low-level militant but not part of an al-Qaida terrorist cell as previously believed, according to documents released by the Pentagon.
Ayyub Murshid Ali Salih was captured in Karachi, Pakistan, in September 2002 and has been held at Guantanamo as a suspected enemy combatant since October of that year. He was detained as part of raids that netted more significant suspects, and authorities decided he and several others were part of a cell planning a future attack.
But authorities re-evaluating the evidence against him determined he was only among a pool of Yemeni men being considered for future attacks according to documents released ahead of his appearance before the Periodic Review Board.
"Our review of available intelligence indicates that he probably did not play a major role in terrorist operations, leading us to disagree with previous U.S. government assessments that he was involved in a 2002 plot to conduct an attack in Karachi, Pakistan," officials wrote.
The Periodic Review Board, made up of representatives of six government agencies, has been conducting a review of dozens of Guantanamo prisoners to determine if they can be released from the base in Cuba as part of an effort to close the detention center.
The U.S. does not return prisoners to Yemen, so officials would most likely have to find another country to accept Ali Salih if he is approved for transfer. A representative appointed by the military told the board that Ali Salih was willing to be resettled in any country to get on with his life.
The U.S. holds 91 prisoners at the base, including 34 who have been cleared for transfer.