U.S. offering $5 million reward for Al Qaeda capo ... who was released from Gitmo in 2006

I wish I could tell you that this is a bad Bush policy that Obama’s long since discontinued but we know better, don’t we? I wonder what reward we’ll be offering for this turd, say, circa 2020.

The defense here, I take it, will be to point to the amount of time that’s elapsed since they released him and claim that no one could have known in 2006 that this guy would grow into a fish big enough to justify a multimillion-dollar reward. Which raises the question: What sort of fish did they think he’d grow into? A garden-variety battlefield jihadi? Even in a best-case scenario, where they sincerely thought the Saudi “rehab” program would straighten him out, they were badly, badly wrong in their judgment.

Ibrahim al-Rubaysh was originally released in 2006 by the George W. Bush administration and put into a Saudi Arabian “rehabilitation” program. However, al-Rubaysh returned to the battlefield and now serves as a top leader with Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula — one of the most dangerous Al Qaeda affiliates…

Lt. Col. Myles Caggins, Defense Department spokesman for detainee policy, said more than 90 percent of detainees transferred under the Obama administration “have resumed quiet lives in various countries.”…

A briefing posting on the department’s Rewards for Justice website offers up to $5 million for information that “brings justice” to the former detainee. It says he has served as a senior “sharia official” with AQAP since 2013 and as such, “provides the justification for attacks conducted by AQAP.” He also is involved in planning attacks, the posting says.

Be skeptical of that “90 percent” figure. According to other military sources, upwards of 30 percent of the more than 600 detainees released from Gitmo have resumed jihad. Obama transferred four more detainees from the prison to Afghanistan just this past weekend, in fact; Thomas Joscelyn of Long War Journal notes that, as of 2008, the internal Pentagon threat assessment for each was “high risk,” i.e. “likely to pose a threat to the US, its interests, and allies.” Presumably they’ll be back in Taliban hands soon enough as the insurgency reclaims parts of Afghanistan from the government in Kabul. As for al-Rubaysh, more from Judicial Watch:

It turns out that al-Rubaysh is the poster child for the Saudi rehab’s failures. He’s a dangerous Al Qaeda operative based in Yemen and now, years after freeing him, the United States wants him captured. This month the State Department coined the “senior leader” of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) a Specially Designated Global Terrorist. “He serves as a senior advisor for AQAP operational planning and is involved in the planning of attacks,” a State Department announcement says. “He has served as a senior AQAP sharia official since 2013, and as a senior AQAP sharia official, al-Rubaysh provides the justification for attacks conducted by AQAP.  In addition, he has made public statements, including one in August 2014 where he called on Muslims to wage war against the United States.”

The U.S. government has also offered a $5 million reward for information that could lead to al-Rubaysh’s capture. The prize is part of a $45 million pot offered by the State Department’s Rewards for Justice Program involving eight key AQAP leaders, among them al-Rubaysh. Information on some of al-Rubaysh’s buddies could net informants $10 million, but he’s only worth half that, according to the U.S. government. The bottom line remains; The U.S. had him and let him go.

Byron York asked a good question on Monday. Now that O’s issued his executive order on amnesty, what’s stopping him from issuing another executive order to close Gitmo and transfer the detainees there to the United States in defiance of Congress’s wishes? Having smashed the norm that Congress should set policy on matters as momentous as immigration, he might as well capitalize and push the envelope on Gitmo to keep one of his core campaign promises to the left in 2008. The only meaningful limits on his actions these days are political, not legal, and those political limits get weaker every day as the end of his presidency approaches. There is one thing that could stop him, though — if the polling on closing the prison looks dodgy enough to make Democratic leaders nervous about what it would mean for Hillary 2016, they might lean on him to stand down. That’s the one remaining political check on O, and it highlights a key difference between this and Obama’s other shady executive actions, like amnesty or suspending the employer mandate in ObamaCare. Those latter actions were reasonably popular; virtually everyone hates the mandate and most Americans, including most Republicans, support some form of legalization for illegals. Obama could spin both moves as acts of compassion. Can’t do that with Gitmo. If he acts and a backlash follows, it could wake up the public up to how dubious his previous executive gambits were.

Then again, how likely is it that Democrats would be nervous about this issue in 2016? Obama ran on it in 2008 and won in a landslide. Hillary herself reportedly urged Obama to do more to empty the prison when she was secretary of state. They’ve already committed to this position. Arguably the best thing O could do now for her is to make the lefty base, which is famously skeptical of Hillary, happy by nuking Congress again and closing the prison. When she cheers from the sidelines, it’ll build some lefty interest in her. Who cares if the new Republican Congress tries to block funds for it? This is about gestures.

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David Strom 8:41 PM on January 30, 2023