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Saudi Interior Ministry Receives 4 Yemeni Detainees from Guantanamo | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A freed Yemeni detainee smiles after arrival at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, January 5, 2017. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser

Riyadh – Upon the directives of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman, four Yemeni detainees arrived from Guantanamo at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh. The royal gesture comes in response to a request by Yemeni President Abed Rabu Mansour Hadi to host nine Yemeni detainees from Guantanamo.

Major General Mansour al-Turki, Ministry of Interior spokesman, said on Thursday that King Salman has issued a directive to the relevant authorities to receive four Yemeni detainees from Guantanamo, whose families reside in the kingdom.

The ministry added that they have informed the detainees’ families and will facilitate a meeting bringing them together, adding that the prisoners will be subject to the kingdom’s governing laws and regulations and will undergo rehabilitation programs at Mohammed Bin Naif Center for Advice, Counseling and Care.

The statement identified the four released men as: as Mohammed Rajab Sadiq Abu Ghanem, Salem Ahmed Hadi bin Kanad, Abdullah Yehya Yousef al-Shibli and Mohammed Bawazir.

Last April, Saudi Arabia hosted nine Yemenis from the U.S. prison in Cuba, and put them through a government-run rehabilitation program that seeks to reintegrate militants into society.

This happens upon Obama administration’s intentions to reduce the number of prisoners in Guantanamo, despite President-elect’s pressures to stop the release, Reuters has reported.

This will be the first phase of President Barack Obama’s plan to move as many as 19 prisoners to four countries including: Italy, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates before Trump is sworn in on Jan. 20.

Trump said on Tuesday all of those held at Guantanamo should remain. “These are extremely dangerous people and should not be allowed back onto the battlefield,” he tweeted.

If the release operations go as planned, 40 prisoners will still be left by the time Obama leaves office, even though he had made a pledge to close the controversial facility at the U.S. naval base in Cuba.

Of the 59 prisoners left at Guantanamo, 10 face charges in military commissions, including alleged plotters of the Sept. 11 attacks. Over 20 other prisoners have not been charged but have been deemed too dangerous to release.

When Obama first came to office in 2009, he called Guantanamo, which had 242 detainees back then, a “recruiting tool” for terrorists.