Biden Admin Plans To Release Three Guantanamo Bay Inmates:
Including A 9/11 ‘Conspirator’ and Osama Bin Laden’s Suspected Bodyguard, Who Have Been Held Nearly 20 Years.
The prison’s oldest inmate, 73-year-old Saifullah Paracha of Pakistan, was cleared by the prisoner review board along with two other men, said Paracha’s lawyer Shelby Sullivan-Bennis, who represented him at his hearing in November.
Authorities alleged he was an al-Qaida ‘facilitator’ who helped two of the conspirators in the Sept. 11 plot with a financial transaction. He says he didn´t know they were al-Qaida and denies any involvement in terrorism.
The two other individuals were identified as 54-year-old Abdul Rabbani of Pakistan and Uthman Abdul Rahim Mohammed Uthman, a 40-year-old from Yemen.
Uthman was suspected of being part of Osama bin Laden’s bodyguard corps.
President Joe Biden’s administration has said it intends to resume efforts to close the detention center, a process that former President Donald Trump halted.
Paracha’s attorney said she thinks he will be returned home in the next several months.
It does not mean his release his imminent. But it is a crucial step before the U.S. government negotiates a repatriation agreement with Pakistan for his return.
As is customary, the notification did not provide detailed reasoning for the decision and concluded only that Paracha is ‘not a continuing threat’ to the U.S., Sullivan-Bennis said.
‘The Pakistanis want him back, and our understanding is that there are no impediments to his return,’ she said.
A Pentagon spokesman had no immediate comment.
The prisoner review board also informed Uthman, a Yemeni who has been held without charge at Guantanamo since it opened in January 2002, was also notified that he had been cleared, according to his attorney, Beth Jacob, who spoke to him by phone.
‘He was happy, relieved and hopeful that this will actually lead to his release,’ Jacob said.
Paracha, who lived in the U.S. and owned property in New York City, was a wealthy businessman in Pakistan.
The U.S., which captured Paracha in Thailand in 2003 and has held him at Guantanamo since September 2004, has long asserted that it can hold detainees indefinitely without charge under the international laws of war.
In November, Paracha, who suffers from a number of ailments including diabetes and a heart condition, made his eighth appearance before the review board, which was established under President Barack Obama to try to prevent the release of prisoners who authorities believed might engage in anti-U.S. hostilities upon their release from Guantanamo.
At the time, his attorney said he was more optimistic about his prospects because of Biden’s election, his ill health and developments in a legal case involving his son, Uzair.
Uzair Paracha was convicted in 2005 in federal court in New York of providing support to terrorism, based in part on testimony from the same witnesses held at Guantanamo whom the U.S. relied on to justify holding the father.
In March 2020, after a judge threw out those witness accounts and the government decided not to seek a new trial, Uzair Paracha was released and sent back to Pakistan.