Five Yemeni inmates at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba have been released and sent to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the U.S. Department of Defense announced Sunday. The detainees were held for over a decade on suspicion of having connections with al Qaeda.
The released Yemenis arrived Saturday in the UAE and were identified as Ali Ahmad Muhammad al-Razihi, Khalid Abd-al-Jabbar Muhammad Uthman al-Qadasi, Adil Said al-Hajj Ubayd al-Busays, Sulayman Awad Bin Uqayl al-Nahdi, and Fahmi Salem Said al-Asani, the defense department said, in a statement. Pakistani and Afghan forces took the men into custody in 2001 and handed them over to the U.S.
“The United States coordinated with the Government of the United Arab Emirates to ensure these transfers took place consistent with appropriate security and humane treatment measures,” the statement read.
No charges were filed against any of the five men but were detained as enemy combatants. The released men were not sent to Yemen because the U.S. believed the country was volatile to accept prisoners from Guantanamo, the Associated Press (AP) reported, adding that the men were the first prisoners accepted by the UAE for resettlement.
Yemenis are the single largest national group at the military detention facility. While 64 Yemenis are currently at the Guantanamo Bay prison, 39 of them have been approved for release, according to the Washington Post.
The men were released from the detention facility as President Barack Obama’s government was gearing up to present a plan to the U.S. Congress to shut down the Guantanamo Bay prison. Some of the prisoners were believed to be transferred to the U.S., Al Jazeera reported.
Obama cut down the number of prisoners by more than half since he took office in 2009, according to AP. The Congress, however, opposed Obama’s move to close the detention facility.
In late October, the U.S. released Shaker Aamer, the last British resident held in Guantanamo Bay. He was detained for 13 years.
At present, Guantanamo Bay prison houses 107 inmates of which 48 reportedly have been cleared for repatriation or relocation in a third country.