US transfers two Gitmo detainees to Algeria gov't
By Andrea Shalal-Esa and David Alexander ,ReutersWASHINGTON -- The United States said on Thursday that it had transferred two men from the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the government of Algeria as part of its ongoing effort to close the controversial prison.
August 31, 2013, 12:03 am TWN
The Pentagon said Nabil Said Hadjarab and Mutia Sadiq Ahmad Sayyab were transferred on Wednesday and arrived in Algeria the same day, leaving 164 detainees at Guantanamo, including 84 others cleared for release years ago.
The two Algerians were detained in Afghanistan more than a decade ago and sent to Guantanamo prison — Hadjarab on Jan. 20, 2002, and Sayyab on Feb. 15, 2002.
The Obama administration first announced plans to repatriate the two inmates last month, resuming the transfer of detainees for the first time in nearly a year.
The Pentagon said the decision to release the two men followed a comprehensive review by an interagency task force which looked at security issues and other factors.
Classified Defense Department files released by the anti-secrecy group Wikileaks said Hadjarab, 34, who was raised in Algeria and France, was believed to be a member of the al-Qaida Global Jihad Support Network with ties to the Algerian Armed Islamic Group.
He traveled to Afghanistan in 2001 where he received AK-47 training in Jalalabad. After the U.S.-led invasion, he fled to the Tora Bora mountains with other al-Qaida supporters. He was wounded by a U.S. helicopter while trying to flee Tora Bora and was later captured by Afghan troops, the U.S. documents said.
Sayyab, 37, also is considered to be a member of the al-Qaida support network and is thought to have received training in making improvised explosive devices from the Moroccan Armed Islamic Group in Jalalabad, U.S. documents said.