The Pentagon on Wednesday announced that a fourth detainee of the infamous Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba has been released this year. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
March 9 (UPI) -- A long-time Guantanamo Bay detainee alleged to have been an al-Qaida bomb maker has been repatriated to Saudi Arabia, Pentagon officials said, marking at least the fourth person to be released from the controversial Cuban detention facility this year.
The Department of Defense announced Wednesday that Ghassan Al Sharbi, 48, had been repatriated to his native country after a Periodic Review Board process early this month determined his continued law of war detention "was no longer necessary to protect against a continuing significant threat to the national security of the United States."
The board had recommend his transfer subject to the implementation of security measures that include monitoring, travel restrictions and continued information sharing, it said.
"The United States appreciates the willingness of the Kingdom of Saudi of Arabia, and other partners to support ongoing U.S. efforts toward a deliberate and thorough process focused on responsibly reducing the detainee population and ultimately closing the Guantanamo Bay facility," the Pentagon said in a statement.
With Al Sharbi's repatriation, 31 detainees remain at Guantanamo Bay, of which 17 are eligible for transfer, nine are involved in the military commissions process, three are eligible for a Periodic Review Board and two have been convicted in military commissions.
The Guantanamo Bay detention camp opened in January 2002 to be an offshore facility to hold those captured during the United States' War on Terror, which was launched by then-President George W. Bush in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, al-Qaida attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City.
It has held 779 detainees, with Al Sharbi arriving at the facility in June 2002.
According to his detainee profile, Al Sharbi graduated from Arizona's Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in 2000 and attended a U.S. flight school where he associated with two of the 9/11 hijackers who had taken lessons there.
The report accuses him of being in Pakistan following the attacks where he trained to make radio-remote-controlled improvised explosive devices with the intent of training others.
He was captured March 28, 2002, at a senior al-Qaida facilitator's Pakistan safe house, it states.
Military prosecutors have filed charges against Al Sharbi at least three times, though each time the charges were dropped, according to the Human Rights First organization.
The Biden administration seeks to close the facility, and last month saw three detainees -- Majid Khan and brothers Abdul Rahim Ghulam Rabbani and Mohammed Ahmed Ghulam Rabbani -- released.