Americans should brace for shock. More terrorist attacks may be on the way.
In a likely precursor to a wave of Guantanamo detainee repatriations overseas, President Obama has released two “high risk” Saudi battle-hardened Al Qaeda veterans of the Afghanistan War, one of whom had volunteered for a suicide mission.
Said Muhammad Husyan Qahtani and Hamoud Abdullah Hamoud were whisked away this week by a Saudi jet to enter a 3-month rehabilitation program for radical Islamic militants.
Taken together, Team Obama’s counter-terrorism policies make no sense.
Though considering their rap sheets, as posted by the New York Times, “curing” these terrorists might be a challenge. Both were reportedly members of Usama Bin Laden’s 55th Arab Brigade, which fought U.S. and coalition troops in places like Kabul, Bagram and Tora Bora.
Qahtani swore a “bayat,” aka solemn oath to Bin Laden, admitted his ties to terror groups Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, Jaish-e-Muhammad, and association with Al Qaeda key figures -- including at least five of the Sept. 11 hijackers. According to his Joint Task Force Guantanamo file, “detainee volunteered for a martyrdom mission and was identified by Al Qaeda senior commanders to be a suicide bomber.”
Hamoud was similarly labeled “high risk” and “high threat” by U.S. authorities, who in addition to fighting our forces, also served as a money courier for Al Qaeda. He was captured at an Al Qaeda safehouse in Pakistan with over $6,000 in his possession, including U.S. dollars, Saudi riyals and Pakistani Rupee.
While the Saudi militant rehabilitation program claims a 90% success rate, that means 10% of those who have been through the program have returned to terrorism. This includes Said Al-Shihri, another ex-Gitmo detainee who became Al Qaeda’s #2 leader in the Arabian Peninsula. Ironically, as AQAP’s Deputy Emir, Al-Shihri was killed by a drone strike in Yemen this past July.
According to U.S. intelligence reports, nearly 30% of ex-Gitmo detainees, or about 200 men, have returned to terrorism. Al-Shihri was not the only one to make a name for himself. According to a Fox News exclusive report by Catherine Herridge, Libya’s Sufian Bin Qumu was on the ground in Benghazi on the night of the U.S. Consulate attack.
Abdullah Gulam Rasoul became the Taliban’s operational commander in southern Afghanistan. Abdullah Mehsud directed a suicide attack on Pakistan’s Minister of the Interior in 2007. Abdallah Saleh Al Ajmi became a suicide bomber in Iraq, killing 13 in Mosul on Easter Sunday 2008.
Get ready for more.
As part of the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act which passed the House and Senate this week, a compromise to keep Gitmo detainees out of the U.S. will mean lifting tough restrictions against transferring at least half of the remaining 158 from Gitmo to overseas.
Currently 80 have been approved for transfer under an Obama administration interagency review board. This includes committed jihadists, like Bin Laden bodyguards, terrorist recruiters, financiers and others who will most assuredly return to terrorism.
Though Republicans in Congress have wisely prevented Mr. Obama from closing Gitmo, the Democrat-led pressure to release detainees is having an impact. The least dangerous detainees have left long ago, the ones who remain pose an even greater threat.
Yet the Obama-led obsession with closing Gitmo marches on, oblivious to the nightmare posed to Americans and our allies.
It’s hard to fathom how a White House that has increased drone strikes six-fold from the previous administration, and spied on the world through the NSA surveillance program could even reconcile the kid glove approach to Guantanamo detainees. Taken together, Team Obama’s counter-terrorism policies make no sense.
Though Mr. Obama doesn’t face any more elections, his allies in Congress certainly do. Americans must hold all of them accountable for each and every detainee released. Our lives depend on it.
J.D. Gordon is a retired Navy Commander who served as a Pentagon spokesman in the Office of the Secretary of Defense from 2005-09. He serves as senior adviser to several Washington-based think tanks.