House Republican: Obama 'underestimates' Gitmo recidivism

House Republican: Obama 'underestimates' Gitmo recidivism
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A Republican congresswoman is pressing President Obama for more information on the recidivism rate of former Guantánamo Bay detainees, following the arrest of a former detainee the same day the administration unveiled its plan to close the facility.

Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) is also demanding to know why detainees have been transferred to countries recognized as state sponsors of terrorism following reports that someone sent to Sudan is now a senior leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

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“Recidivism is clearly a very real issue but seems to be underestimated by your administration,” Walorski wrote in a letter to Obama this week.

Last week, Obama announced his long-awaited plan to close the detention facility. Among the steps, the administration plans to continue transferring 35 eligible detainees to foreign countries.

Republicans pounced on the plan, and one chief criticism was that it does not address the recidivism rate of former detainees.

The rate at which released detainees return to terrorism is disputed. Critics say it's 30 percent, while Obama’s supporters say it's much lower.

On the same day Obama announced his closure plan, a former detainee was arrested in Spain on suspicion of trying to recruit Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters.

Reports also surfaced late last year that Ibrahim al-Qosi, who was released to his home country of Sudan in 2012, was now in Yemen with AQAP, described as al Qaeda’s most dangerous branch.

In her letter, Walorski described the decision to transfer al-Qosi to Sudan as curious, considering the country is on the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism.

She also questioned how al-Qosi was able to get from Sudan to Yemen.

“The recently-released Plan for Closing the Guantánamo Bay Detention Facility states that the U.S. government obtains security assurances and humane treatment assurances from a country before transferring a detainee,” she wrote.

“Among the security assurances are restrictions on travel, monitoring of the detainee and periodic information sharing. However, al-Qosi is currently operating out of Yemen. Obviously, there was a breakdown in these security assurances.”

Walorski specifically asked for a classified briefing to address 10 questions centering on al-Qosi and two other Sudanese detainees, including how they were monitored after being transferred and whether Sudan provided any assurances of humane treatment.

“Transferring Guantánamo detainees — known terrorists — to countries that are state sponsors of terrorism is an incredibly dangerous and misguided policy,” she wrote. “No reasonable person should trust these governments to follow through on any promises they make to ensure detainees do not rejoin the battle.”