Three of the 40 prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay US military prison have been approved for release. This marks the first GITMO prisoner release the Biden administration has approved.
The three to be released are Pakistani Saifullah Paracha, who is 73 and one of the oldest still held. The two others approved for release are Abdul Rabbani, 54, and Uthman Abdul al-Rahim Uthman, 40. Rabbani is from Pakistan. Uthman is from Yemen.
“Today is one hell of a day. Saifullah Paracha – 73, 17 years wrongfully imprisoned — is going home,” his lawyer Shelby Sullivan-Bennis said. No timeline for the releases has been given by DOD.
From Fox News:
Paracha was a wealthy businessman who lived and owned property in New York City. Authorities alleged he was an Al Qaeda “facilitator” who helped two of the conspirators in the 9/11 plot with a financial transaction. He says he didn’t know they were part of the terror group and denies any involvement in terrorism.
He was captured in 2003 while in Thailand and has been in Guantanamo since 2004. He suffers from a number of ailments, including diabetes and a heart condition.
The review board found he is “not a continuing threat” but it doesn’t mean his release is imminent.
Six other prisoners have also been cleared for release, five of them before Trump came to office in 2017.
Biden is under pressure to clear out uncharged prisoners at Guantanamo and move ahead with the trials of those accused of direct Al-Qaeda ties.
Among the 40 detainees left — at one point there were nearly 800 there — are a number of men who allegedly took direct roles in 9/11 and other Al-Qaeda terror attacks.
The US government has stated that it wants to try them with military tribunals, but those remain mired in legal and bureaucratic issues that have prevented any real progress.
After Monday’s decision on releases, said Sullivan-Bennis, “I feel confident that the Biden administration is going forward to clear out Guantanamo to the extent that is possible.”
Lawyer: US approves release of oldest Guantanamo prisoner https://t.co/fuhYZPPCTN— The Independent (@Independent) May 17, 2021
How is this real life? https://t.co/xfbazOpLe1— Shelby Sullivan-Bennis (@dontspyonmeNYPD) May 19, 2021