President Obama's plan to close Guantanamo Bay within a year was met Monday with the emergence of former inmates on terrorist Web sites, fierce opposition in the U.S. and a lukewarm response to taking detainees from the European Union.
After signing an executive order last week to close the U.S. military prison, Obama has been confronted with myriad obstacles that are making his ambitious pledge look unrealistic.
David Miliband, Britain's Foreign Secretary, ruled out the prospect of Britain taking any more inmates, claiming that it had already made a significant contribution.
His announcement, at a meeting of EU foreign ministers, came as Saudi Arabia announced Monday that it had rearrested nine Islamist militants, including former Guantanamo inmates released to the Kingdom who had undergone a re-education program in Riyadh.
Two other former detainees sent home to Saudi Arabia from the prison in November 2007 re-emerged over the weekend on a jihadist Web site, railing against Britain, the U.S. and Israel and identifying themselves by their Guantanamo detainee numbers.
One of the men who appeared on video was Said Ali al-Shihri, now the deputy leader of Al Qaeda's Yemeni branch. He is suspected of involvement in a bombing at the U.S. Embassy in the Yemeni capital Sanaa in September, which killed 16.
“By Allah, imprisonment only increased our persistence in our principles for which we went out, did jihad for, and were imprisoned for,” al-Shihri said on the video.
The other former inmate has been identified as Abu Hareth Muhammad al-Awfi, who is seen clutching an automatic rifle and a grenade.
At a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels, the idea of taking in about 60 Guantanamo inmates cleared for release received a far from enthusiastic response, with some members, including Britain, appearing to reject the prospect.