Report: Ex-Gitmo Detainee Joins Al Qaeda

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The Obama administration's decision to close Guantanamo Bay prison is coming under new scrutiny.

The New York Yimes reports a terrorist released from Gitmo in 2007 has now become an al-Qaeda leader.

CBN News Terror Analyst Erick Stakelbeck gives more insight on the potential problems with closing Gitmo, following his report. Cick play to watch.

The report highlights some of the potential difficulties of closing the controversial prison within a year, as the president has ordered.

Said Ali al-Shihri was supposed to change his ways after being released from Guantanamo Bay in 2007.

He returned to his native Saudi Arabia and underwent a terrorist rehabilitation program run by the Saudi government. But it appears the program failed.

Al-Shiri soon made his way to Yemen, where he has emerged as a high-ranking al-Qaeda deputy. Al-Shiri is suspected of involvement in September's deadly bombing of the U.S. embassy in Yemen, which killed 16 people.

He is just one of dozens of former Gimto detainees who are thought to have returned to the battlefield since being released from American custody

"If you just release them, and then they go back to the battlefield, then you do have a problem," said Cliff May of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies in Washington.

He questions what the U.S. will do with the 248 detainees now at Guantanamo if the prison is closed within a year, as President Obama has promised.

"It's even worse if you have to bring them back to the U.S. and have to release them on U.S. soil because you can't convict them," he said.

"Soldiers out in the field are not playing 'CSI Miami,' May added. "They're not collecting evidence that can be used in a court in the United States."

Critics of the Obama plan say Gimto detainees are too dangerous to be held in city jails or state prisons.

But White House military official Adm. John Hutson says the time is long past due to close Gitmo.

"We need to fight this battle on our battleground, which is the rule of law and support of human rights," he said. "Guantanamo undermined that message at every


Closing Gitmo and putting the military tribunals there on hold is just one way President Obama is breaking with the Bush administration. He's also issued an order that all detainees be treated according to the Geneva conventions--and that every interrogation be consistent with the rules laid out in the Army Field Manual.

Lastly, Obama ordered the CIA to close its secret prisons for terrorist suspects around the world.

*Originally aired on January 23, 2009

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CBN News
Erick Stakelbeck

Erick Stakelbeck

CBN News Terrorism Analyst

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