New data from the nation's top intelligence official shows that the number of Guantanamo Bay detainees returning to the battlefield continues to grow at an extraordinary rate.
The report from the director of national intelligence says that 150 of the 598 detainees who have been transferred out of Guantanamo's detention camps, about 25 percent, are now confirmed or suspected of returning to the battlefield.
Of that group, 13 are dead and 54 are again in custody, while 83 remain at large. And the report estimates that detainees that return to the battlefield do so an average of two and a half years after their release.
"The Intelligence Community assesses that the number of former detainees identified as reengaged in terrorist or insurgent activity will increase," the report says, adding, "if additional detainees are transferred from GTMO, some of them will reengage in terrorist or insurgent activities."
The report also addresses interactions between ex-Gitmo detainees and members of terrorist organizations.
“It is not unusual for former GTMO detainees to communicate with persons in terrorist organizations. The reasons for communication span from the mundane (reminiscing about shared experiences) to the nefarious (planning future terrorist operations)," the report says.
This comes as the House is poised to pass Wednesday a federal spending bill that would bar the transfer of terrorism suspects from Guantanamo to U.S. soil for prosecution -- which would be a major setback to the Obama administration's goal of closing the detention facility at a U.S. base in Cuba.
In the most prominent pending case involving a Gitmo detainee, the Obama administration has said it plans to prosecute accused Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in a civilian court in the U.S., though a final decision has yet to be made on the venue, amid controversy over the decision.
The Justice Department voiced opposition to the House measure set to pass Wednesday.
"We strongly oppose this provision," Justice Department spokesman Matt Miller said. "Congress should not limit the tools available to the executive branch in bringing terrorists to justice and advancing our national security interests."
CIA Director Leon Panetta said the biggest concern is ex-detainees who not only return to the battlefield but take up leadership positions within Al Qaeda, a reference to the terror group's branch in Yemen, where at least two leaders are Saudis and former Guantanamo detainees.
U.S. officials acknowledge that detainees who leave Guantanamo are like "rock stars" in the jihadist community. Their time at the camps is seen as a "badge of honor."
"Obviously any indication of recidivism is of concern, and we'll deal with those recidivists in the way that we do — which is to hunt them down and to bring them to justice," Attorney General Eric Holder said Wednesday after release of the intelligence director's report.
More than half of the detainees at Guantanamo are from Yemen, and according to assessments by State Department officials, the Yemeni government would only be able to hold the men for a matter of weeks if they were sent from Guantanamo to Yemeni prisons.
Last year, Fox News was the first to report that ex-detainees were returning to the battlefield at a rate at least 20 percent, and among the Saudi, Yemeni and Pakistani detainees, the number of detainees who go back to the fight is believed to be significantly higher.
“Unfortunately, these latest numbers make clear that fulfilling a campaign promise to close Guantanamo Bay is overriding what should be the Administration’s first priority—protecting Americans from terrorists," Sen. Kit Bond, top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a news release. "It is unacceptable to continue transferring these dangerous detainees when we know that one in four are confirmed or suspected of returning to the fight.”
Fox News' Catherine Herridge and Mike Levine contributed to this report.