Man who was bin Laden bodyguard cleared for release from Guantanamo

Jan. 10, 2014 at 11:07 AM
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GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- A man who was once a bodyguard for Osama bin Laden has been cleared for release from the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the Pentagon said.

Mahmoud Abd al-Aziz al-Mujahid, 33, of Yemen, was cleared by a review board and is eligible for transfer to any country that agrees to take him, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The Pentagon said Thursday the board determined that Mujahid's indefinite detainment was no longer needed "to protect against a continuing significant threat to the United States."

Mujahid was captured was captured Dec. 15, 2001, by Pakistani forces with a group of al-Qaida fighters known as the "Dirty 30" as they tried to cross the border from Afghanistan, Pentagon records from 2008 show. He was later handed over to U.S. authorities and arrived at Guantanamo Bay on Jan. 11, 2002.

"This is just the first of many reviews that must take place in order to finally close Guantanamo," said Dixon Osburn of Human Rights First, an advocate for detainees.

So far, the board has cleared 77 of Guantanamo's 155 inmates for release. Seventy others are likely to undergo review hearings this year. The remaining inmates have been criminally charged and are not eligible for release.

Al-Qaida leader bin Laden was killed in a U.S. military raid May 1, 2011.

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