US is set to RELEASE Bin Laden’s ‘former bodyguard’ and Afghan militant commander with ‘ties to Al Qaeda’ from Guantanamo Bay with number of detainees decreasing to 37

  • Sanad Yislam al-Kazimi and Assadullah Haroon Gul, neither of whom have been charged with a crime, have been approved for release
  • With their release there will only be 37 detainees left at Guantanamo Bay, down from a peak of near 700 
  •  Al-Kazimi, 51, will be transferred to Oman while it is not yet clear where Gul will be transferred 
  • Guantanamo has reportedly cost U.S. taxpayers over $6 billion since its inception 

Two men, one Yemeni considered to be Osama Bin Laden’s bodyguard and one Afghan commander who fought alongside al-Qaeda, are set to be transferred out of Guantanamo Bay for rehabilitation, according to documents released Wednesday. 

The interagency Periodic Review Board approved the transfer of Sanad Yislam al-Kazimi and Assadullah Haroon Gul, bringing the number of detainees at Guantanamo down to 37. 

Neither had ever been charged with a crime.  

Al-Kazimi, 51, who was captured in Dubai in 2003, will resettle in Oman, neighboring his home nation of Yemen. Yemen is considered too unstable to rehabilitate detainees, while Oman already accepted 39 during the Obama administration. Martha Rayner, al-Kazimi’s lawyer, said her client is in ‘pretty good’ health and ‘looks forward to being transferred as quickly as possible.’

Al-Kazimi had sought to be transferred to an Arabic-speaking country where he could reunited with his wife and could ‘someday see his four children and his grandchildren,’ according to the New York Times. 

It is not yet clear where Gul, 40, will be transferred. He was captured by Afghan forces in 2007 when he served as Islamist commander and fought alongside the Taliban and al-Qaeda against the US-backed forces. 

The board decided he could be safely transferred, with security arrangements, due to a ‘lack of a leadership role in extremist organizations and his lack of a clear ideological basis for his prior conduct.’ It did not say where he should go. 

Gul’s lawyers had pursued his release through an unlawful detention petition, and last year the Afghan government agreed to support his repatriation, but that was before it fell to the Taliban. 

One Yemeni considered to be the bodyguard of  Osama Bin Laden, above, will be transferred to Oman 

The Biden administration has signaled it aims to close the military prison in Cuba before leaving office, reviving an Obama-era promise

The Biden administration has signaled it aims to close the military prison in Cuba before leaving office, reviving an Obama-era promise. 

Congress stood in the way of an effort by forbidding any detainee from stepping foot on the US mainland. Only one other detainee, Abdul Latif Nasser of Morocco, has been released under the Biden administration, and that was under an agreement reached during the Obama years. 

With Wednesday’s announcement, 12 men could be eligible for release if the US State Department could reach an agreement with a receiving nation to impose security protocols, such as restricting their ability to travel abroad. 

Meanwhile, another 12 are in the midst of military commission proceedings and 15 are held as ‘law of war’ prisoners, with no plan for release due to their alleged role in the 9/11 attacks. 

Guantanamo has reportedly cost U.S. taxpayers over $6 billion since its inception.

American taxpayers spend roughly between $9.5 and $13 million per prisoner, per year. The prison currently has 40 inmates. That’s compared to $78,000 spent per inmate at a ‘supermax’ prison in Florence, Colo., home to some of the highest-risk prisoners in the U.S. 

Guantanamo has reportedly cost U.S. taxpayers over $6 billion since its inception.

In 2019, a top attorney there filed a whistleblower complaint against the prison alleging ‘gross financial waste’ and ‘gross mismanagement’

Included in that figure are charter planes to and from the island with few passengers, hundreds of thousands’ worth of government devices that are destroyed each year to spills of classified information, Pentagon-funded defense attorneys priced at half a million dollars per year and total legal costs amounting to $60 million, even though Guantanamo has only ever had two finalized convictions.

In 2019, a top attorney there filed a whistleblower complaint against the prison alleging ‘gross financial waste’ and ‘gross mismanagement.’

The cost has risen dramatically over the years – a 2013 Defense Department report calculated the per-prisoner detention cost at only $2.7 million.

Capt. Brian L. Mizer, a Navy lawyer who has represented Guantanamo detainees over the years, called the prison ‘America’s tiniest boutique prison, reserved exclusively for alleged geriatric jihadists.’

About 770 men and boys have been held at Guantanamo as war prisoners, with prison population peaking at 677 in 2003. 

The Bush administration, which opened the prison after 9/11, released 540 detainees, mostly repatriating them back to Pakistan, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. The Obama administration released another 200. Trump placed an effective hold on releases. 

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