The Pentagon announced on Sunday that six prisoners cleared for transfer in 2010 will be sent to the South American country of Uruguay where they will be resettled as “refugees.”
The six — four Syrians, a Tunisian and a Palestinian — were detained as suspected militants with ties to al-Qaeda but were never charged. The Pentagon statement said the U.S. worked with Uruguay’s government to ensure the transfers took place.
The government named the men as Ahmed Adnan Ahjam, Ali Hussain Shaabaan, Omar Mahmoud Faraj, Abdul Bin Mohammed Abis Ourgy, Mohammed Tahanmatan, and Jihad Diyab.
The six are the first prisoners transferred to South America from the detention camp in Cuba, part of a number of recent releases amid a renewed push by President Barack Obama to close the prison.
Uruguayan President Jose Mujica agreed to accept the men as a humanitarian gesture and said they would be given help getting established. The country has a small Muslim population.
The men have been cleared for release since at least 2010 but the U.S. struggled to find countries willing to accept them.
Obama administration officials have been frustrated that the transfer took so long and blame outgoing Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel for not approving the move sooner, according to the Associated Press.
They said the deal sat for months on Hagel’s desk, awaiting his signature as required by law, but the Pentagon didn’t send the notification of the transfer to Congress until July.
Uruguayan officials then decided to postpone the transfer until after the presidential elections on Oct. 26. Tabare Vazquez, a member of Mujica’s ruling coalition and a former president, won a runoff election on Nov. 30. He is is due to begin his new mandate in March.
The case was reviewed by the Guantanamo Review Task Force, as directed by an executive order by Obama on Jan. 22, 2009, the Pentagon statement said.
Question: If these guys are so harmless, how come no country would take them? Another question: What criteria was used to decide they weren’t a threat?
These are political considerations not related to national security concerns. After all, the terrorists who are released will not be on American soil so why worry about what they do overseas?
In his eagerness to satisfy his rabid base of ant-American leftists, the president has decided to empty the prison at Guantanamo regardless of whether it makes sense from a security point of view or not.