President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have approved one of Osama bin Laden’s personal bodyguards for release or transfer from the Guantanamo Bay detention center to another country, according to prison records released by WikiLeaks and a recently published list of approved-transfer detainees from the Justice Department.
Idris Ahmad Abdu Qadir Idris is the second name on Holder’s Justice Department list of 55 Gitmo detainees approved for release or transfer. This detainee, according to a Jan. 26, 2008, Defense Department document published by WikiLeaks, provided security for bin Laden both before and after the deadly Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States.
“Detainee is assessed to be a member of al-Qaida and was identified as a bodyguard for Usama Bin Laden (UBL) beginning shortly before the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks. Detainee is also assessed to be an al-Qaida recruiter associated with a Salafist network in Yemen,” the document reads. “Detainee transited through multiple extremist support guesthouses, received militant training at the al-Qaida al-Faruq Training Camp in Afghanistan (AF), and is assessed to have received advanced training.”
“Detainee fled UBL’s Tora Bora Mountain complex with a group of 30 fighters including other UBL bodyguards, collectively known as the Dirty 30,” the document states. “Detainee’s name was found on al-Qaida affiliated documents.”
The Defense Department considers Idris a “high risk” if released from custody, meaning that he is “likely to pose a threat to the US, its interests and allies.”
The detainees on the Justice Department’s list have been approved for release or transfer since 2009 – the beginning of the Obama administration – but they remain in the Guantanamo Bay prison and their names had not been released publicly because, according to Politico, “the State Department’s envoy for Guantanamo, Ambassador Daniel Fried, cited a need to coordinate diplomatic efforts to resettle the war-on-terror prisoners.”
“However, in the new court filings Friday, Justice Department lawyers said that need no longer merited keeping the list secret,” Politico wrote. “They didn’t quite concede that the resettlement process has stalled, but that was the implication. Congress has also greatly complicated releases from Guantanamo with a series of legislative measures attached to budget bills that Obama signed into law.”
Obama, who had promised to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center if elected in 2008, and Holder cleared Idris for release or transfer from Guantanamo well before bin Laden was killed in 2011. The Obama campaign has emphasized the president’s decision to send in the military to kill bin Laden as part of a broader message that he is a strong foreign policy leader who is tough on terror.
Spokespeople for the Justice Department and for the White House haven’t responded to requests for comment on why they want to release or transfer one of Bin Laden’s bodyguards from U.S. custody, even as reports surface suggesting the recent anti-American attacks in Libya were organized by a released Gitmo detainee.