Bin Laden bodyguard among Gitmo detainees cleared to leave, documents show

The Obama administration’s now-public list of Guantanamo Bay prisoners cleared for release or transfer to another country includes a former Usama bin Laden bodyguard, according to published documents and news reports.

The name Idris Ahmad Abdu Qadir Idris appears on the list of 55 detainees. He is believed to be an Al Qaeda member and was identified as a bin Laden bodyguard whose duty began shortly before the 9/11 terrorist attacks, according to Defense Department documents in 2008 made available by WikiLeaks.

He was brought to the Cuba prison camp in June 2008 and is considered by the Defense Department a “high” terror threat, the documents also show.

The federal government has protected the names since 2009, citing diplomatic concerns. But the names were made public Friday as part of  court filings, with Justice Department lawyers saying there is no longer a need to keep the list protected -- the filing was first reported by Politico.

The detainees, though, have remained imprisoned because of problems in their home countries or difficulties finding another nation to take them. And Idris presumably is no exception. Idris’ birthplace, like others in the WikiLeaks documents, is listed as Yemen, a country President Obama in 2010 deemed too unsettled to receive Guantanamo detainees.

A Justice Department spokesman explained to on Monday that numerous Guantanamo detainees approved for transfer by the Guantanamo Review Task Force remain in military detention “on account of transfer restrictions under current U.S. law and a suspension on transferring detainees to Yemen because of concerns regarding the security situation in Yemen.”

However, the department did not confirm whether Idris was indeed a bodyguard for the former Al Qaeda leader or whether he was indeed cleared for transfer or release.

The court filing suggests Justice Department lawyers think the transfer effort has hit a standstill.

“In the over two years … circumstances have changed such that the decisions by the task force approving detainees for transfer no longer warrant protection," the lawyers wrote.

The lawyers also wrote that efforts to resettle Guantanamo detainees over the past three years have “largely been successful” – including 28 of them being sent to their home countries and 40 to other countries.

A footnote on the list states more detainees could be approved for transfer but their status is protected by court order. There are 167 male detainees now in Guantanamo.

Obama has unsuccessfully tried to close Guantanamo, after making the 2008 campaign promise.

Attorney General Eric Holder cleared Idris for release or transfer before U.S. forces killed bin Laden in 2011, according to The Daily Caller, which first reported the detainee was on the list.