Libya attack shows effort to close Gitmo should be abandoned, says Inhofe

The White House should abandon its efforts to close the prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, amid reports an ex-detainee may have been involved in the killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Sen. James Inhoffe (R-Okla.) said Thursday.

“Sufian bin Qumu is a perfect example of why [Guantanamo] is such a valuable asset in the war on terror,” Inhofe said in a statement. 

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Bin Qumu is a former Guantanamo detainee who was reportedly one of the gunmen involved in an assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others. 

“Far too many detainees, like Qumu, have been released to other countries for continued detention simply because of political pressure," Inhofe said in the statement.   

Prior to the Benghazi attack, Bin Qumu was transferred from U.S. custody to Libyan security forces under the assumption he would remain in custody after being handed over to Tripoli, according to recent news reports. 

"The Libyan government knew he was dangerous and capable of leading terrorist attacks [yet] we released him anyway with the agreement that he would remain incarcerated," according to Inhofe. 

Bin Qumu, who is a Libyan national, was being detained by the United States for his alleged role in financing the 9/11 terrorist attacks. His family was also reportedly receiving monthly payments from al Qaeda's payroll, according to recent reports. 

"It is a classic example of why, once a detainee is no longer under our control, they can easily return to the fight," he added. 

News of Bin Qumu's involvement has added to the roadblocks the Obama administration faces in closing Guantanamo. Obama vowed to close the prison as one of his first actions as president. 

But congressional Republicans have continually stonewalled White House efforts to end detainee operations at Guantanamo, arguing that other U.S. allies simply cannot be trusted to secure detainees for any period of time. 

Inhofe repeated that GOP attack line on Thursday, saying it was time for the administration to "realize that these individuals will stop at nothing to do us harm." 

Guantanamo is one of the few lines of defense the U.S. has to keep terror suspects in custody and off the battlefield, according to Inhofe.