Two Guantánamo detainees transferred to Ghana

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Another two detainees have been transferred out of the Guantánamo Bay detention facility, the Pentagon announced Wednesday.

Mahmud Umar Muhammad bin Atef and Khalid Mohammad Salih al-Dhuby, both citizens of Yemen, have been sent to Ghana. Under current U.S. law, Guantánamo transfers to Yemen are banned.

“The United States is grateful to the government of Ghana for its humanitarian gesture and willingness to support ongoing U.S. efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility,” the Pentagon said in a written statement. “The United States coordinated with the government of Ghana to ensure these transfers took place consistent with appropriate security and humane treatment measures.”

Atef admitted to being a member of the Taliban, according to military files published by The New York Times. He was also alleged to have been a fighter in Osama bin Laden’s 55th Arab Brigade, a guerrilla organization sponsored by al Qaeda.

He had been held at Guantánamo since January 2002.

Al-Dhuby was alleged to have been a member of al Qaeda who “probably engaged in hostile activities against coalition forces,” according to the military files. He had been at the Cuban prison camp since May 2002.

In its statement, the Pentagon said the transfers were unanimously approved by the six departments that make up the Guantanamo Review Task Force.

There are now 105 detainees at Guantánamo. Another 15 have been approved for transfer, with reports indicating the moves could come soon.

Congress has repeatedly stymied President Obama's efforts to fulfill a 2007 campaign promise to close the facility. Lawmakers have banned transfers to the United States, but Obama indicated in his year-end press conference he may move ahead without them.

"We will wait until Congress has said definitively 'no' to a well-thought-out plan with numbers attached to it before we say anything definitive about my executive authority here," he said.