The White House seems determined to make good on its pledge to close Guantanamo Bay within the last 16 months of Obama's presidency. In another head shaking decision, his administration has decided to release a Gitmo prisoner with a dangerous past, including reports he once served as Osama Bin Laden's bodyguard.
Abdul Rahman Shalabi, a 39-year-old man from Saudi Arabia, was captured by Pakistani military in 2001 and has been serving time in Guantanamo Bay for 13 years. Intelligence analysts have reason to believe he was Bin Laden's bodyguard and was sought to carry out a suicide attack for Al Qaeda. His terror-linked history made him a prime candidate for Gitmo.
Yet, mind boggingly, he is now being repatriated to Saudi Arabia.
The Periodic Review board that guided Shalabi to the exit offered the following reasons for their decision, ranging from his terror sins are "in the past" and he has since lived a "quiet" life.
In a statement explaining its reasoning, the board said Mr. Shalabi had “terrorist-related activities and connections” in the past, but said it was confident that the Saudi government’s rehabilitation program and its ability to monitor former detainees would mitigate the risks. The board also cited the fact that Mr. Shalabi’s nephew, who was repatriated from Guantánamo in President George W. Bush’s second term and went through the Saudi rehabilitation program, has apparently lived quietly ever since.
Are these good enough reasons to put America's, and the world's, security at risk? Defense officials have suspected former Gitmo prisoners of joining ISIS and returning to lives of terror.
Just 114 Gitmo prisoners remain. Does the White House think the world be any safer when they are freed - or are they playing politics?