Former Guantanamo Detainee Vanishes Into Thin Air, Authorities Scramble

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Jonah Bennett Contributor
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Law enforcement authorities in Uruguay are frantically searching for a former Guantanamo Bay detainee who vanished into thin air and is suspected to be in Brazil.

Jihad Ahmed Mustafa Dhiab, a Syrian, was released to Uruguay in 2014 under the close supervision of the government. It seems as though Dhiab disappeared across the border to Brazil, even though he didn’t have the requisite documents and may have even used falsified documents, The Washington Post reports.

The situation is bad enough that the U.S. is getting involved in the search, according to one U.S. anonymous official, which is likely to inflame tensions between the Obama administration and Congress over issues of resettlement.

Dhiab, along with five other detainees, were shipped to Uruguay in December 2014. The detainees almost immediately complained about having to work and demanded the government provide them welfare. Although the local union offered the men work, they turned the offer down, prompting then-President of Uruguay Jose Mujica to say they had been “turned halfway into vegetables” and noted they “lack the inner strength, the will to move on with their lives.”

“These people are destroyed,” Mujica added. “They could be here for two years and they won’t understand a goddamn thing.”

Detainees have not been terribly successful at learning Spanish. They’ve also haven’t done well at learning the local culture.

“The decision to transfer a detainee is made only after detailed, specific conversations with the receiving country about the potential threat a detainee may pose after transfer and the measures the receiving country will take in order to sufficiently mitigate that threat, and to ensure humane treatment,” the U.S. official told The Washington Post.

Republicans, who have fought the Obama administration to keep Guantanamo Bay open, are starting to believe they’ve won the fight, as they don’t think the White House can empty the prison fast enough before President Barack Obama’s time in office is over. They’re pushing for one final battle in the annual defense budget legislation to block the Pentagon from spending any money on plans to relocate hardened detainees to U.S. soil.

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