Guantanamo Bay (Gitmo), the controversial U.S. prison facility in Cuba will remain open after outgoing President Barack Obama finishes his second term, despite his campaign pledge to close it.
Last week Obama transferred 10 prisoners to Oman. The transfer was part of his ongoing attempts to clear the facility. By contrast, incoming President Donald Trump has pledged to fill Gitmo up with “some bad dudes.”
In order to find out whom exactly Obama has been releasing, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) introduced legislation yesterday which would require the government to declassify and publicly release information on the terrorist records of all Gitmo detainees who have been released since the November 8 presidential election.
What do we know so far about these former detainees?
Have those released from Gitmo gone on to commit acts of terrorism?
In January last year, Obama released a Saudi Al-Qaeda recruiter
The prisoner was regarded as a “high risk detainee” who had vowed on record to “kill Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan” if he was ever released.
In 2014, five Taliban leaders were exchanged for army deserter Sergeant Bowe Berghdahl
The five prisoners were listed as “high risk” detainees meaning that the Department of Defense regarded them as “likely to pose a threat to the US, its interests and allies.” All five were senior Taliban leaders including their former army chief of staff, interior minister, chief of communications and deputy minister of intelligence.
All five had links to Al-Qaeda.
In 2009, the Pentagon released a list of 29 released detainees who have returned to terror
The 29 were part of a group of 74 former detainees that the Pentagon believes have rejoined terrorist groups following their release, although only 29 had been confirmed as having done so. This was out of some 540 who were released.
The Pentagon said at the time that 5% of those released went on to commit terrorist attacks while an additional 9% were suspected of having joined terrorist groups but had not necessarily carried out attacks.
"What this tells us is, at the end of the day, there are individuals that, if released, will again return to terrorist activities," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told Associated Press.
There are currently 45 detainees in Guantanamo Bay, compared to 242 when Obama took office.
“At this point, I don’t anticipate that we will succeed in that goal of closing the prison, but it’s not for a lack of trying,” press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters at his final media briefing, explaining why the facility was still open. “The only reason it didn’t happen is because of the politics that members of Congress of both parties, frankly, played with this issue.”