A Guantanamo Bay detainee who was arrested in 2002 for allegedly being a member of al Qaeda was transferred to Kuwait on Wednesday. Fouzi Khalid Abdullah al Awda was also accused of participating in several militant trainings and of being an affiliate of Abu Qatada, the most infamous jihadi recruiter in the U.K. He is the first prisoner released to Kuwait since 2009 and only the second since a prisoner released to Kuwait in 2005, Abdallah Salih al-Ajmi, carried out a suicide bombing in Iraq three years later.
فوزي العودة مغادرا معتقل غوانتانامو بعد 13 سنة من السجن.. مغادرا إلى الكويت.. pic.twitter.com/laySn2MegB
— خالد (@W_MKJ) November 5, 2014
(The name is Fouzi, and he left Guantanamo after 13 years in prison. He is going to Kuwait.)
After he spent almost 13 years in jail without any charges against him, the Periodic Review Board approved al Awda for transfer in July. The decision was leaked on social media accounts known to be affiliated with jihadis prior to its announcement, according to Long War Journal. One tweet celebrating his release was retweeted by Abdul Mohsin Abdullah Ibrahim al Sharikh, a senior Jabhat al-Nusra leader in Syria and U.S. designated terrorist. Two of al Sharikh’s brothers were held in Guantanamo before being released to Saudi Arabia in 2007.
واشنطن : حكم قضائي يسمح بالإفراج عن الكويتي فوزي العودة .. ألف مبروك لعائلة العودة التي كان لها الفضل في إثارة قضية غوانتنامو منذ البداية
— شؤون استراتيجية (@Strategyaffairs) July 24, 2014
(Verdict allows the release of the Kuwaiti. Congrats to him for his release raising the issue of Guantanamo.)
The revised ruling stated that after assessing al Awda’s “low level of training and lack of a leadership position in al Qaeda or the Taliban,” detaining him was no longer “necessary to protect against a continuing significant threat to the security of the United States." Al Awda was considered to be a “high risk” detainee “likely to pose a threat to the U.S., its interests and allies,” in a leaked Guantanamo Bay assessment from 2008.
He arrived in Kuwait at dawn on Wednesday, CBS News reported. He was expected to be first brought to a hospital and then to a rehabilitation center where the U.S. advised he should remain for a year. According to reports circulating on Twitter, al Awda’s father will be hosting a celebration in honor of his son’s return next Saturday.
والد فوزي العودة العائد من غوانتانامو بعد 13 عاما يدعو المواطنين لحفل عشاء الأحد المقبل بمناسبة عودة أبنه pic.twitter.com/iaWGPFMLWE
— ✨ الكويت ✨ (@M7MD_SALH) November 5, 2014
(Fouzi returns from Guantanamo after 13 years; his father calls on citizens to come to a party next Sunday to celebrate the return of his son.)
The Department of Defense said al Awda’s release is a step in the Obama administration’s plan to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center altogether. The prison still holds 148 detainees.