The group of 17 detainees expected to be transferred out of Guantanamo Bay as early as this week includes “multiple bad guys” and “Al Qaeda followers,” a source who has reviewed the list told Fox News.
Little is known publicly about which prisoners are being prepared for transfer, but the Obama administration has notified Congress it plans to ship out 17 detainees – some of whom could be transferred within days.
While the identities of the men are closely held, the source who spoke with Fox News said it includes “multiple bad guys … not taxi drivers and cooks.”
This is a reference to the administration’s transfer of Ibrahim al Qosi to Sudan in 2012. Despite entering a “re-integration program,” the one-time cook for Usama bin Laden has now fled to Yemen, where he is among the leadership of Al Qaeda in Yemen. That transfer is now said to be a source of considerable heartburn for the Obama administration.
As for those on the docket for immediate transfer, the source told Fox News the administration will not identify the detainees until they are relocated in their new home countries -- because knowing who they are in advance would create further roadblocks and increase the controversy.
Multiple countries have agreed to take the men, in small groups, and the source said some of the countries were so-called first timers -- a reference to the fact those countries had not taken Guantanamo detainees in the past.
The move to clear out 17 detainees is seen as part of the administration’s long-term plan to ultimately shutter the detention camp.
The transfer of 17 prisoners would bring the number of detainees left down to 90 – the bulk of whom cannot be transferred to another country.
Many in Congress, though, fiercely oppose any plan to bring those detainees to the U.S.
President Obama in his year-end news conference justified the closure of the detention camp, claiming “Guantanamo continues to be one of the key magnets for jihadi recruitment.” But the Middle East Media Research Institute, or MEMRI, which tracks jihadist propaganda, said that terrorist groups have moved on from using Guantanamo in their recruitment efforts.
“The topic of Guantanamo prisoners appeared rather frequently in Al-Qaeda's propaganda in past years,” MEMRI’s Eliot Zweig said. “However, the topic has received little to no attention in the last year or two ... Gitmo hasn’t received much attention in official ISIS releases.”
Catherine Herridge is an award-winning Chief Intelligence correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC) based in Washington, D.C. She covers intelligence, the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security. Herridge joined FNC in 1996 as a London-based correspondent.