Former Gitmo Detainee Goes Missing In South America

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Saagar Enjeti White House Correspondent
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South American airline, Avianca, asked all their employees to be on the lookout for former Guantanamo Bay detainee Abu Wa’el Dhiab, released to the country of Uruguay in 2014. Avianca warned its employees Dhiab may be using a fake passport.

Dhiab is one of six Guantanamo bay detainees released to Uruguay. Uruguay classifies Dhiab as a refugee and maintain he is in Brazil visiting his family members. Uruguay also insists Dhiab may travel freely without restriction, raising questions about the safety of releasing known terrorists to countries willing to take them.

The Department of Defense’s own review notes that Dhiab was a known member of Al Qaida, and traveled to Afghanistan from Syria to fight in 2000. Dhiab repeatedly traveled to Pakistan and maintained communications with Al Qaida cells inside Yemen. Dhiab also received financial assistance from Al Qaida, solidifying his status as a designated U.S. terrorist. Dhiab was released despite a recommendation from the Defense Department he not be released.

The Obama administration released another Guantanamo bay detainee June 23, Abdel Malik Ahmed Abdel Wahab,  despite a review board’s recommendation that he remain in United States custody. U.S. authorities concluded that he continued lying to his interrogators as late as 2008, insisting he traveled to Afghanistan to “teach the Koran.” A leaked U.S. military report assessed all of Wahab’s statements “to be false” and found he was employing evasion strategies similar to other trained terrorists.

Despite significant ties to known high profile terrorists Wahab will be granted asylum in Montenegro for “re-socialization” and “a return to his family.” When Montenegro accepted another Yemeni detainee in January 2016 it specified the detainee would not required to remain in the country but would “eventually be free to choose the country they want to live in.”

If Dhiab returns to the battlefield he will not be the first Guantanamo bay detainee to do so. In 2007 the U.S. released Taliban commander Abdul Qayyum Zakir from Guantanamo Bay to the government of Afghanistan. Zakir was subsequently released from Afghan prison for no apparent reason whatsoever and returned to the Afghan battlefield as a senior commander.

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Saagar Enjeti