The New York Times reported that two men who have been held for years in Guantanamo Bay, a Yemeni and an Afghan, have been approved for transfer, one to the Sultanate of Oman and the other whose destination has not yet been determined.
The Interagency Periodic Review Board approved the transfer of the Yemeni, Sanad Yaslam Al-Kazemi, and the Afghan, Asaadullah Harun Gul, who had been detained by the United States since 2007.
The newspaper suggested, quoting sources, that it may require the return of the Afghan detainee to his homeland if an agreement is reached with the “Taliban” movement that runs the country.
The council said that the Yemeni Sanad Al-Kazemi should be resettled in the Sultanate of Oman, a Gulf country adjacent to his original homeland, as it is currently impossible to transfer him to Yemen due to the unstable conditions in Yemen, and it is not possible to monitor the returnees and assist in their rehabilitation.
The council approved Al-Kazemi’s transfer in October. Less than two weeks after the State Department official responsible for overseeing the transfer arrangements, John T. Godfrey, to the Sultanate of Oman, the United Arab Emirates and London, in his capacity as Acting Coordinator of Counter-Terrorism.
The administration of former US President Barack Obama had agreed with the Omani government to receive 30 detainees for the second time to rehabilitate them.
Sanad Al-Kazemi, 41, was arrested in Dubai in January 2003. US military intelligence confirmed that he was Osama bin Laden’s bodyguard in Afghanistan.
Sanad Al-Kazemi’s lawyer, Martha Rayner, a professor at Fordham Law School, said he is in good health and “looks forward to his transfer as soon as possible.”
She added, “Al-Kazemi sought to transfer him to an Arabic-speaking country, where he could be reunited with his wife and one day see his four children and grandchildren. What he wants is to live in a stable and peaceful country.” But she added that Al-Kazemi is “worried about the unknown that awaits him, because he knows that many men have been acquitted and yet they have been languishing for years in prison.”
The council also approved the transfer of Afghan Asaadullah Harun Gul, who has been detained since 2007, but the destination to which he will be sent has not been specified.
According to the American newspaper, 12 of the 39 detainees were approved for release, if Washington could reach an agreement with their recipients to impose security restrictions on them.
The United States has repatriated more than 200 Afghan detainees at Guantanamo Bay during the nearly 20-year period, when Afghanistan was led by and backed by a US-allied government.
Congress refused to transfer any detainee from Guantanamo to the United States for any reason, in preparation for the closure of the prison.