The Department of Defense announced late Sunday that five Yemeni detainees who had been held at the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba have been released and sent to the United Arab Emirates.
The transfer of Ali Ahmad Muhammad al-Razihi, Khalid Abd-al-Jabbar Muhammad Uthman al-Qadasi, Adil Said al-Hajj Ubayd al-Busays, Sulayman Awad Bin Uqayl al-Nahdi, and Fahmi Salem Said al-Asani, came after a “comprehensive review” by the interagency Guantanamo Review Task Force, according to the Pentagon.
The Pentagon said the five were accepted for resettlement in the Persian Gulf nation after U.S. authorities determined they no longer posed a threat. All were arrested fleeing the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan following the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks and were described as low-level fighters in American military assessments. .
Four of the five detainees —al-Qadasi, al-Busays, al-Nahdi, and al-Asani — had been recommended for transfer by the task force as of January 2010. The task force recommended continuing detention for al-Razihi, saying that he had been a bodyguard for Usama bin Laden and that he probably fought against the rebel Northern Alliance prior to the U.S. invasion. The task force also described al-Razihi as a "medium [security] risk [who] may pose a threat to the US, its interests, and allies."
However, the task force's recommendation in Razihi's case was overruled by a parole-like review board that recommended him for transfer.
The Defense Department said in a statement Sunday that their release brings the Guantanamo prisoner population to 107.
None of the men had been charged with a crime but had been detained as enemy combatants. They could not be sent to their homeland because the U.S. considers Yemen too unstable to accept prisoners from Guantanamo amid an ongoing Saudi-led war against Shiite rebels there.
Officials in the United Arab Emirates did not immediately comment Monday on the men's resettlement, nor was there any word about their arrival in the country's state-run media. In July 2008, the seven-emirate nation accepted an unidentified Guantanamo detainee at the same time Afghanistan and Qatar each accepted one.
The United Arab Emirates is a major regional military ally for the U.S. The country also is part of its coalition targeting the ISIS terror group with airstrikes in Iraq and Syria.
President Barack Obama has reduced the number of prisoners at Guantanamo by more than half since he took office. He had sought to close the detention center but faced opposition to Congress. The administration is now seeking to move detainees to the United States amid intense opposition.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.