The Obama administration deported more Gitmo detainees than earlier reported by the Washington Post, and not just to Yemen. Instead of the six Yemenis first reported, the administration released a dozen detainees, including the six Yemenis but adding four Afghans and two Somalians. The latter two get returned to a government with no diplomatic relations with the US, and which immediately released the pair:
Defense and Justice Department officials Saturday refused to comment on the massive transfer, a portion of which was reported by The Washington Post on Friday as a potential “prelude to the release of dozens more detainees to Yemen” at a time of gathering Republican resistance to the White House plan to move other detainees to Thomson, Ill.
Reports from Somaliland, a breakaway region in northern Somalia that has its own autonomous government, identified the freed Somalis as Ismael Arale, 45, and Mohamed Suleiman Barre, 44.
Arale and Barre were processed by the Somaliland government and then released to rejoin their families in Hargeisa, the major city in Somaliland and capital of the region, according to a statement on the official Somaliland Web site.
The United States does not recognize the government in Somaliland and there were no official statements on how Arale and Barre arrived there. A local newspaper, the Somaliland Press, said they arrived aboard a jet provided by the International Committee of the Red Cross, suggesting that the United States had released the men to the Red Cross in a third country.
Arale, who’s been described as a document forger and Islamic jurist, was captured in Somalia in 2006 was one of the last detainees ever taken to Guantánamo.
The Pentagon said in a June 6, 2007, announcement that Arale “exemplifies the genuine threat that the United States and other countries face throughout the world from dangerous extremists.”
We captured Arale in Somalia three years ago. Since we don’t have any military presence in that country, or at least none we acknowledge, Arale had to have been captured either by covert intelligence forces or a secret military mission. That must have meant that the Pentagon and/or the CIA thought him to be a significant target. We don’t know, because the paperwork released on Arale has been heavily redacted — which also indicates the presumed value of having him in our custody.
Now he’s gone back to an area known to be a haven for terrorists — and under the control of a government with which the US doesn’t do business. How exactly did that happen? Somaliland is a breakaway piece of Somalia that no one recognizes. Does the US usually extradite prisoners to jurisdictions that we do not recognize and in the absence of an extradition treaty?
The only thing more foolish than releasing terrorists is to release them in the middle of failed states.