In spite of the ongoing terror threat emanating from Yemen, the White House says it does not plan to rethink President Obama’s decision last May to lift a moratorium on releasing Guantanamo Bay prisoners back to that country.
“I am lifting the moratorium on detainee transfers to Yemen, so we can review them on a case by case basis,” Obama told an audience at the National Defense University during a major counterterrorism policy speech on May 23.
The president is standing by that announcement, even though Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the Al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen that U.S. intelligence officials say is now the greatest Al Qaeda threat to the U.S. homeland, was formed in part by several former Guantanamo Bay detainees who were released in 2006.
“A handful of former GITMO detainees, primarily Saudi citizens, made their way across the border into Yemen and they joined AQ in Yemen,” according to AQAP expert Gregory Johnsen, author of “The Last Refuge: Yemen, al-Qaeda, and America’s War in Arabia.”
“It was that merger between people, former GITMO detainees from Saudi Arabia and the AQ escapees in Yemen, that really formed AQAP, the group that announced itself in January 2009, and that’s the group we know today as AQAP.”
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