US transfers Guantanamo detainee to Algeria

FILE - In this photo reviewed by U.S. military officials, the control tower of Camp VI detention facility is seen on April 17, 2019, in Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba. The U.S. has transferred Guantanamo detainee Said bin Brahim bin Umran Bakush back to his home country of Algeria citing that his continued detention was no longer necessary, the Department of Defense announced Thursday, April 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File) (Alex Brandon, Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

WASHINGTON – The U.S. has transferred a Guantanamo detainee back to his home country of Algeria, saying his continued detention was no longer necessary, the Department of Defense announced Thursday.

Said bin Brahim bin Umran Bakush was captured in Pakistan in 2002 during an aggressive campaign by the U.S. to apprehend persons suspected of supporting terrorism following the 9/11 attacks. Last year a review board found that his continued detention at the Guantanamo Bay detention center was no longer necessary and “he could be safely transferred, noting his lack of any leadership role in al Qaeda,” Amnesty International said.

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The Pentagon said in a release Thursday that his detention “was no longer necessary to protect against a continuing significant threat to the national security of the United States.”

“In consultation with our partners in Algeria, we completed the requirements for responsible transfer,” the Pentagon said, noting that Algeria will continue to provide monitoring, restrict travel and share information on Bakush with the U.S.

The U.S. opened the detention center under President George W. Bush in January 2002 after the 9/11 attacks and the invasion of Afghanistan. It was intended to hold and interrogate prisoners suspected of having links to al-Qaida or the Taliban. About 780 men have passed through Guantanamo, which hit a peak of a about 680 in 2003.

In February, the U.S. transferred Majid Khan, a Pakistani citizen. The move marked the first time since the Obama administration that American officials have been able to reach agreement with a stable third-party country willing to take Guantanamo prisoners the U.S. no longer considered a threat.

With his release, 30 detainees remain at Guantanamo. Of those 30 detainees, 16 are eligible for transfer; three are eligible for a review board assessment to see if they are also eligible for transfer; nine are involved in the military commissions process; and two detainees have been convicted in military commissions, the Pentagon said.

According to Amnesty International,