President Barack Obama transferred 15 Guantanamo Bay prisoners to the United Arab Emirates, making it the largest transfer in his time in office.

He sent 12 Yemenis and three Afghans to the Middle East country, leaving only 61 prisoners in the Cuba base. Gitmo had 242 prisoners when Obama took office in 2009.

The media and the left raised hell over the facility, which led to then-presidential candidate Obama to promise to close it. He signed it off when he took office, but has been slow to actually close it.

However, while the left lashed out at President George Bush over Gitmo, he actually released more prisoners:

Since its opening after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, the prison has held nearly 800 men. The Obama administration has released nearly 200 detainees, while 532 were released during the George W. Bush administration.

USA Today reports:

The Pentagon, in a statement, said an inter-agency review board considered their potential threat to security and unanimously approved six of the 15 for release, A consensus was reached on release of the remaining nine. There are 61 detainees remaining at Guantanamo.

According to the Pentagon, the 15 prisoners are Abd al-Muhsin Abd al-Rab Salih al-Busi, Abd al-Rahman Sulayman, Mohammed Nasir Yahi Khussrof Kazaz, Abdul Muhammad Ahmad Nassar al-Muhajari, Muhammad Ahmad Said al-Adahi, Abdel Qadir al-Mudafari, Mahmud Abd Al Aziz al-Mujahid, Saeed Ahmed Mohammed Abdullah Sarem Jarabh, Mohammed Kamin, Zahar Omar Hamis bin Hamdoun, Hamid al-Razak (aka Haji Hamidullah), Majid Mahmud Abdu Ahmed, Ayub Murshid Ali Salih, Obaidullah, and Bashir Nasir Ali al-Marwalah.

Six of the 15 — al-Busi, Sulayman, Kazaz, al-Muhajari, al-Adahi, and al-Mudafari — were unanimously recommended for release by the inter-agency Guantanamo Review Task Force, the Pentagon said.

The government will usually pay the countries who take the prisoners “up to $100,000 each” in order to pay for monitoring and resettlement costs such as “language instruction, vocational courses.” They did not divulge any specifics, but the government “typically conducts electronic surveillance of former detainees, while local authorities keep physical tabs on them.” The Wall Street Journal added:

One technique the administration uses to find homes for detainees involves leveraging rivalries to get countries to compete over resettling the men. It is called “keeping up with the Joneses,” a senior administration official said. Foreign governments are realizing that “if you want to get attention in the Obama administration, one way to do it is to take Guantanamo detainees,” the official said.

In the U.A.E., the 15 newly transferred men will enter a rehabilitation facility modeled after a Saudi program that seeks to “de-radicalize” former detainees, a senior administration official said. “There is an ideological component. They bring in the moderate [religious leaders]. They provide literature. They work on life skills,” the official said.

“They work not just with carrots, but with sticks” to promote compliance, the official said. “It is built on a detention model.”

But the action has led to criticism:

“In its race to close Gitmo, the Obama administration is doubling down on policies that put American lives at risk. Once again, hardened terrorists are being released to foreign countries where they will be a threat,” said House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, a California Republican. “I fear we will be dealing with the consequences of this recklessness for years to come.”

Royce makes a valid point, but detainees released by both Bush and Obama have gone back to terrorism. Former Gitmo prisoner Abu Wa’el Dhiab, a Syrian, slipped away from his home in Uruguay, raising more security fears in Brazil right before the Olympics kicked off. He tried to enter Brazil three times before. He eventually resurfaced in Venezuela, asking for help to return to Turkey to find his family. His explanation raised eyebrows, though, because many jihadists use Turkey as a gateway to Syria to join jihadists groups.

In June, a senior U.S. official told USA Today that 12 former prisoners “attacked and killed Americans serving in Afghanistan.” The State Department also confirmed an ex-Gitmo detainee participated in the ISIS attack on an Istanbul airport in July that killed 45 and injured 230.


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