Muslims WorldWide

Obama releases Al Qaeda explosives experts from Gitmo, ‘no longer a threat’


Two Al Qaeda explosives experts are transferred from Guantanamo Bay to Senegal after Obama administration determines they are ‘no longer a threat’

  • Salem Abdu Salam Ghereby, 55, and Omar Khalif Mohammed Abu Baker Mahjour, 44, were both members of the Libya Islamic Fighting Group
  • With the release of the two Libyans, there are 89 men left, including 35 cleared for release who are expected to be gone within months 
  • Their departure comes amid an effort by President Barack Obama to release Guantanamo prisoners  and close the detention center 
  • Mahjour had been held on suspicion of helping re-establish Al-Qaeda camps following their destruction by US bombings in 1998
  • Ghereby’s file states he had attended multiple training camps and received explosives training from a senior Al-Qaeda explosives expert

 

Senegal has agreed to take in two Libyans who spent nearly 14 years in custody at the U.S. base in Cuba without charge, becoming the second country in West Africa to accept former detainees, officials said Monday.

Salem Abdu Salam Ghereby, 55, and Omar Khalif Mohammed Abu Baker Mahjour Umar, who records show is about 44, were both members of the Libya Islamic Fighting Group, an organization that sought the ouster of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and had been designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. since 2004.

Mahjour Umar had been held on suspicion of helping re-establish Al-Qaeda camps following their destruction by US bombings in 1998, and was identified as an explosives and weapons trainer, according to his leaked file.

Salem Abdu Salam Ghereby
Omar Khalif Mohammed Abu Baker Mahjour Umar

Ghereby’s file states he had attended multiple training camps and received explosives training from a senior Al-Qaeda explosives expert. Neither man was ever charged.

Khalif’s lawyer, Ramzi Kassem, said his client is looking forward to ‘receiving proper medical care’ as he is missing his right leg below the knee after stepping on a land mine in Afghanistan in 1998. He is also blind in one eye, and has shrapnel in his leg and arm.

‘This is a bittersweet moment. I’m unsure why a half-blind, one-legged man with only one fully-functioning arm, and whose only supposed crime was to object to the Gadhafi dictatorship in his native Libya, was not freed years ago,’ said Kassem, a professor at City University of New York School of Law.

Ghereby had dropped a legal challenge to his detention after he was cleared for transfer from Guantanamo by U.S. authorities in 2010.

He is hoping that his wife and three children, including a daughter born after he was taken into custody, will be able to join him in Senegal, according to his lawyer, Richard Wilson, a retired law professor from American University in Washington.

‘He was thrilled when he heard that Senegal was receptive to family reunification,’ Wilson said.

Their departure comes amid an effort by President Barack Obama to release Guantanamo prisoners who are no longer deemed a threat and to eventually close the detention center, a prospect that faces strong opposition in U.S. Congress.

Close its doors: Their departure comes amid an effort by President Barack Obama to release Guantanamo (file photo pictured above) prisoners who are no longer deemed a threat and to eventually close the detention center, a prospect that faces strong opposition in U.S. Congress

With the release of the two Libyans, there are 89 men left, including 35 cleared for release who are expected to be gone within months.

The most prominent of those to be resettled over the next several weeks is Tariq Bah Odah, a 37-year-old Yemeni on a long-term hunger strike. He has been force-fed by nasal tube since he stopped eating solid food in 2007.

His weight had dropped to 74 pounds from 148 and his legal team feared he could die of starvation, according to a Reuters at the end of December.

The transfers to Senegal were the second to Africa in recent months. Two Yemeni detainees were sent to Ghana in January. Others were sent recently sent to Oman, Bosnia and Montenegro.

Neither of the two Libyans could be sent back to the homeland they fled in the 1990s because of the instability there unleashed by the violent overthrow of Gadhafi. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry expressed thanks that Senegal agreed to take the men.

‘The United States appreciates the generous assistance of the government of Senegal as the United States continues its efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility,’ Kerry said. ‘This significant humanitarian gesture is consistent with Senegal’s leadership on the global stage.’

Senegal’s Foreign Affairs Ministry confirmed they would be receiving the former detainees in a statement released Monday on the country’s independence day. It cited the ‘Senegalese tradition of hospitality’ and Islamic solidarity.

Khalif, who had been cleared by a U.S. government review board last year, was described in a profile issued by the Pentagon as having worked for a company owned by Osama bin Laden in Sudan after he fled Libya in the 1990s.

He later moved to Afghanistan, where he allegedly fought against the Northern Alliance in its war with the Taliban.

Kassem, his lawyer, said that a U.S. federal court judge found there was no evidence that he was ever involved in any attacks on the U.S. or its allies. Both men relocating to Senegal were captured in Pakistan.

More than two dozen countries have now taken nearly 100 former Guantanamo prisoners since 2009.

These are the first to go to Senegal, though the West African nation of Ghana also has accepted two former detainees.

Their arrival comes amid growing concern about Islamic extremism in Senegal.

Officials in the moderate, predominantly Muslim country on West Africa’s coastline have grown increasingly concerned about the threat of jihadis in recent months.

Al-Qaida’s North Africa branch has carried out a series of deadly attacks on places popular with foreigners, including hotels, a restaurant and a beach in the region.

Senegal is now widely considered a possible next target after the attacks in Mali, Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast.

As a result, security has been significantly enhanced at upscale international hotels, along with French-owned grocery stores and restaurants in the normally peaceful capital.

Armed police officers in flak jackets search the contents of all vehicles entering the parking lot of Dakar’s sole upscale shopping center.

Republican presidential candidates have vowed that, if elected, they would send more terror suspects to Guantanamo instead of closing it.

 

8 thoughts on “Obama releases Al Qaeda explosives experts from Gitmo, ‘no longer a threat’

  1. odd, this come at the same time it is noted that Obama is Helping ISIS by not bombing research center – Is Hussein obama helping ISIS grow stronger by not bombing their weapon research centers? ISIS bomb & chemical weapons ‘research center’ in Mosul barely targeted in US strikes. ISIS has been using a high-tech lab in Mosul for building bombs and chemical weapons and training recruits in bomb-making since its capture in 2014. Barely targeted by US airstrikes, the facility has also provided jihadists with some 40 kg of uranium compounds. The University of Mosul is the best Daesh [Islamic State, formerly ISIS/ISIL] research center in the world,” Iraq’s top explosives officer Gen. Hatem Magsosi told The Wall Street Journal. “Trainees go to Raqqa [Syria], then to Mosul University to use the existing facilities.” When the facility was seized by ISIS back in 2014, Iraqi officials reported to UN that some 40 kilos of uranium compounds kept there apparently fell into jihadists’ hands. “Terrorist groups have seized control of nuclear material at the sites that came out of the control of the state,” Iraq’s UN ambassador wrote at the time, adding that such materials “can be used in manufacturing weapons of mass destruction.” However, the atomic watchdog IAEA said the materials were “low grade” and did not pose any significant security risk, somewhat downplaying the nuclear threat concerns. According to military officials, terrorists are using the well-equipped lab to produce “conventional” explosives and suicide vests, as well as chemical weapons, and peroxide-based bombs. The lab is well-stocked and has dramatically boosted the terror group’s ability to wage attacks in Iraq, Magsosi told the newspaper. He added that once foreign trainees leave the lab, they return to their home countries with enough skills to make bombs like the ones used in the Paris and Brussels attacks. Mosul fell into ISIS hands in the summer of 2014, and by March 2015 dozens of jihadists’ scientists and engineers had established their base at the university’s chemistry lab. People familiar with the university said that units were set up for the specific purpose of studying chemical explosives, weapons, and suicide bomb construction. It is not clear how much damage the US-led coalition operating in Iraq has inflicted on the facility which is well-known to have been under ISIS control for almost two years. The university campus was struck on March 19, according to Col. Steve Warren, a spokesman for the US military in Iraq, without clarifying if it was the first or yet another one in a series of airstrikes on the facility. rt.com/news/338086-isis-chemical-lab-mosul/

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  2. What the hell, I am ashamed to call him my president! He has time and again released dangerous prisoners from Gitmo, whom our brave soldiers have given their lives to capture, ridiculous!

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      • Winston Churchill – How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity.

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