If one was inclined to see the well-deserved death of Anwar al-Awlaki in the Yemen strike as a gift from Santa Claus, perhaps we can consider Saeed Ali al-Shehri as a stocking stuffer. Jake Tapper reports that Shihri, a former Gitmo detainee released by the Bush administration who returned to help lead al-Qaeda in Yemen, was killed in the same strike that killed Awlaki and a total of 30 attendees of an AQ leadership meeting (via No Runny Eggs):
Those believed to have been present at the target in the eastern province Shabwa included the leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Nasser al-Wahayshi, his No. 2, Saeed al-Shehri, and Anwar al-Awlaki, who was quoted telling Al Jazeera Web that Maj. Nidal Hasan, asked him “about killing U.S. soldiers and officers. His question was is it legitimate” under Islamic law.
Tapper reminds his readers of Shehri’s journey:
Saeed al-Shehri, a Saudi and former detainee at Guantanamo, was transferred to the Saudi government by the administration of President George W. Bush on November 9, 2007. He went through jihadi rehab at the “Prince Mohammed bin Nayef Centre for Care and Counseling,” where participants undergo a 12-step program to prepare them to return to society. Al-Shehri instead returned to al Qaeda.
If nothing else, this shows the folly of returning hardened terrorists to Saudi Arabia and Yemen, a move that the Obama administration plans to make with almost 100 current Gitmo inmates. Jihadi rehab has a fairly high recidivism rate, and they’re not curing alcoholics. Shehri should never have been released in the first place, and the fact that we had to go after him twice should make us think twice about releasing any more, especially in Yemen.
At least this time we didn’t bother with capturing Shehri. We’re learning something from this process.