December 8, 2023

Then there were 30. Joe Biden wants to empty Guantanamo Bay and so far he is quietly making some progress. On Thursday, the Biden administration announced that Said bin Brahim bin Umran Bakush was transferred to Algeria. He is the tenth detainee to be released during Biden’s term in office, leaving 30 at the facility. He was captured in 2002 in a raid on an al-Qaeda hideout in Pakistan. After 20 years and at the age of 72, Said bin Brahim bin Umran Bakush is no longer considered to be a threat.

He was allegedly an associate of two senior members of al-Qaeda and attended one of its training camps in Afghanistan in the 1990s. He is an Algerian national who became an instructor. He was accused of being part of a plot to attack the United States. He was released after a review board determined he was no longer a threat. Bin Umran Bakush will face security measures, such as monitoring, travel restrictions, and information-sharing.

Guantanamo Bay was set up by the George W. Bush administration in 2002 as part of the War on Terror against al-Qaeda and other terror groups after the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. Detainees were designated as enemy combatants. Sixteen of the remaining detainees are eligible for transfers, and three are eligible for a periodic review board, according to the Department of Defense. Nine detainees are involved in ongoing military trials. Two have been convicted. That accounts for the thirty that remain at GTMO.

When Barack Obama campaigned for president, he pledged to shut down GTMO on his first day in office. The president who was touted as a constitutional scholar was immediately shut down from doing that. He failed to carry through with that campaign promise for two terms in office.

The Biden administration is praising Algeria and other U.S. allies for agreeing to take back detainees. The administration claims the process is thorough and it is being responsible for how it reduces the population at GTMO to ultimately close the facility. Remember, however, that this administration was responsible for the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan so excuse me if I take what is said with a huge grain of salt. As previous administrations found, the rate of detainees released from GTMO returning to the battlefield was substantial.

Still unclassified predictions estimate that about 30 percent of the detainees released from Guantanamo Bay have returned to the fight in one form or another. Classified estimates put that number even higher. Since it opened, an estimated 780 men have been held at the prison over the twenty years it has been open. Most never stood trial or were charged with a crime. They were classified as enemy combatants. That classification means they are treated differently than ordinary prisoners.

Said bin Brahim bin Umran Bakush is also known as Abdul Razak Ali. He was affiliated with al Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah and others in al Qaeda. He claims he is a victim of mistaken identity and that he wasn’t a part of Zubaydah’s group.

The Biden administration is discussing options. One possibility is for Biden to use an executive order to further reduce the number of detainees in the coming months. He may also use it to close the detention facility by the end of his current term. That would track since Biden is prone to using executive orders to accomplish his agenda. He must be anxious to one-up Obama by closing GTMO when Obama failed at doing so. Most things Biden and his administration have touched have turned to crap. We’ll see if he accomplishes this.