Pentagon identifies 10 Gitmo detainees sent to Oman

Pentagon identifies 10 Gitmo detainees sent to Oman
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The Pentagon on Tuesday identified the 10 Guantanamo Bay detainees sent to Oman a day after the Arabian Peninsula country announced it had accepted the transfer.

Among those transferred include two men the Pentagon acknowledged were cases of mistaken identity.

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

The transfer is part of President Obama’s push to clear the facility as much as possible before he leaves office Friday. Forty-five detainees now remain at Guantanamo.

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Oman has a rehabilitation program for extremists and previously took in 20 Yemeni detainees from Guantanamo.

Obama promised to close the facility during his first presidential campaign, but was unable in the face of stiff opposition from Congress. Lawmakers banned transfers to the United States, which Obama’s closure plan relied on.

In the waning days of his presidency, Obama has taken a final push to further empty the facility. In addition to Monday’s transfer, the administration sent four detainees to Saudi Arabia earlier this month.

The administration reportedly notified Congress last month it planned to transfer up to 19 detainees, meaning more transfers could come in the last days of the administration.

On Tuesday, the White House declined to rule out that more transfers could take place before Friday. 

“The possibility of additional transfers remains a possibility,” press secretary Josh Earnest said at a briefing.

The Pentagon identified the transferred men as:

- Abdul Sahir, 44, of Afghanistan. A Pentagon report said he was mistakenly identified as a person with ties to al Qaeda’s weapons facilitation activities because the two used the same nickname. Instead, Sahir was “probably” a bookkeeper and translator for al Qaeda and the Taliban, though he has said he was coerced into the role by threats to his family, the report said. He was approved for transfer by a consensus of a parole-like review board in July.

- Mustafa Abd al-Qawi Abd al-Aziz Al-Shamiri, 38, of Yemen. Shamiri fought in “several jihadist theaters,” according to the Pentagon report. But he was not the al Qaeda courier, facilitator and trainer he was originally believed to be as it was determined “these activities were likely carried out by other known extremists with similar names or aliases,” the report said. He was approved for transfer by consensus of the board in January 2016.

- Ghaleb Nassar Al Bihani, 37, of Yemen. Bihani was “almost certainly” a member of al Qaeda, according to the Pentagon. He received training in use of small arms and “probably” anti-aircraft weapons, improvised explosive devices (IED), mortars and landmine at al Qaeda and Taliban camps and operated on the frontlines, the report said. He was approved for transfer by consensus of the board in 2014.

- Karim Bostam, 46, of Afghanistan. Bostam was “probably” the leader of an al Qaeda IED cell that targeted coalition forces in Afghanistan, according to the report. He has consistently denied in terrorist activities, the report added. He was approved for transfer by consensus of the board in June.

- Mohammed Al-Ansi, 41, of Yemen. He served as a bodyguard of Osama bin Laden, according to the report. He also “likely” participated in advanced combat training and may have been considered for a suicide attack or deployment to the West, the report says. He was approved for transfer by consensus of the board in December.

- Muhammad Ahmad Said Haider, 38, of Yemen. Haider was a member of bin Laden’s 55th Arab Brigade and received basic and advanced militant training in mountain warfare, the AK-47 assault rifle, PK machine gun, rocket propelled grenades, SPG-9 anti-armor rockets and 82mm mortars, according to a 2008 military profile. He was unianimously cleared for transfer by a task force in 2009.

- Salman Yahya Hassan Mohammad Rabei'i, 37, of Yemen. He “possibly” fought at Tora Bora, according to the Pentagon report. He also stayed at al Qaeda guesthouses, underwent basic extremist training and “possibly” attended advanced training, the report says. He was approved for transfer by consensus of the board in December.

- Musab Omar Ali Al-Mudwani, 37, of Yemen. Mudwani attended al Farouq training camp in Afghanistan, where he was trained on the Kalashnikov rifle, rocket propelled grenades and the PK machine gun, according to the report. After the camp was bombed, he fled and was captured in a safehouse in Karachi, Pakistan. He was part of the so-called “Karachi Six” who were believed to be part of an al Qaeda cell intended to support a future attack, but it was later determined the moniker more accurately described their shared circumstances of arrest. He was approved for transfer by consensus of the board in July.

- Walid Said bin Said Zaid, 38, of Yemen. Zaid received basic training at al Farouq, according to the report. He was unanimously approved for transfer by a task force in 2009.

- Hail Aziz Ahmed Al-Maythali, 40, of Yemen. He received training at several al Qaeda camps and spent two months fighting on the front lines, according to the report. He was also one of the Karachi Six. He was approved for transfer by consensus of the board in August.