Nine Gitmo prisoners heading to Saudi Arabia

 In his continuing quest to close the Guantanamo prison before the end of his term, President Obama has transferred nine more prisoners from Cuba to Saudi Arabia.  The transfers leave 80 prisoners in the facility.


The United States on Saturday transferred nine Yemeni men to Saudi Arabia from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo, including an inmate who had been on a hunger strike since 2007, under a long-sought diplomatic deal between Washington and Riyadh, U.S. officials said.

The transfer, which took place just days before President Barack Obama's visit to Saudi Arabia for a summit of Gulf Arab allies, marked the latest step in his final push to close the controversial detention center at the U.S. naval base in Cuba before he leaves office in January 2017.

The Saudis agreed, after lengthy negotiations that at one point involved Obama and Saudi King Salman, to take the nine Yemenis for resettlement and put them through a government-run rehabilitation program that seeks to reintegrate militants into society, the officials said.

The group announced by the Pentagon was the largest shipped out of the Guantanamo Bay prison since Obama rolled out his plan in February aimed at shutting the facility. But he faces stiff opposition from many Republican lawmakers as well as some fellow Democrats.

There are now 80 prisoners at Guantanamo, most held without charge or trial for more than a decade, drawing international condemnation.

The most prominent of the transfers was Tariq Ba Odah, a 37-year-old Yemeni whom the military had been force-feeding daily since he went on a hunger strike in 2007. His legal team said he was down to 74 pounds, losing about half of his body weight.

Ba Odah's lawyer, Omar Farah, said the U.S. government had "played Russian roulette" with his client's life and that his transfer "ends one of the most appalling chapters in Guantanamo's sordid history."

His case was a source of legal wrangling between the U.S. Department of Justice and his lawyers, who had unsuccessfully sought his release on humanitarian and medical grounds, and also created divisions within the Obama administration.

President Obama will visit Saudi Arabia this week amid renewed tensions between the countries. The Saudis are angry over the Iran nuclear deal and what they see as a weak response to the Syrian civil war. And the US Congress is considering a bill that would allow the families of 9/11 victims to sue the Saudi government for their complicity in the terror attacks. The Kingdom has threatened a sell off of US assets if Congress approves the measure.

As for the terrorist reeducation center that Obama is sending the 9 terrorists to, it's a failure, according to a 2010 Rand study. In fact, the Saudis are apparently using the center to imprison political dissidents rather than terrorists.

We can expect to see at least some of those former Gitmo prisoners going back to the jihad against the west.

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