The last Mauritanian citizen to be released from Guantanamo Bay arrived in Mauritania yesterday. Mohamedou Ould Slahi arrived at Nouakchott airport aboard a US military plane and was received by a Mauritanian security mission that detained him for several hours before they took him to his family home in a working class neighbourhood in Nouakchott.
Ould Slahi was released from Guantanamo Bay after nearly 15 years of imprisonment. The US Department of Defense said that the United States transferred the detainee to Mauritania and that 60 prisoners remain in the prison. In an official statement, the Pentagon explained that “A Periodic Review Board consisting of representatives from the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Justice, and State; the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence determined continued law of war detention of Slahi does not remain necessary to protect against a continuing significant threat to the security of the United States. As a result of that review, which examined a number of factors, including security issues, Slahi was recommended for transfer by consensus of the six departments and agencies comprising the Periodic Review Board.”
The statement also expressed the United States’ gratitude to Mauritania “for its humanitarian gesture and willingness to support ongoing US efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility”. An official Mauritanian source told Asharq Al-Awsat that the release of Ould Slahi was a result of the “intensive diplomatic efforts made by the Mauritanian authorities that continued for several years”. The source said that these efforts were made “at the highest level of power”.
On his part, Ould Salahi said shortly after arriving at his home in a Nouakchott suburb: “I’m here. I would like to inform you, the Mauritanian people and all friendly peoples everywhere around the world that I am safe and that I have returned to my people and family. Praise be to God”.