After the terrorist attacks in 2001, the US took many prisoners to the notorious Guantánamo camp in Cuba. President Biden wants to continue Obama’s attempt to close the camp.
Around six months after taking office, US President Joe Biden’s government transferred a prisoner from the Guantánamo prison camp to his home country for the first time. Abdul Latif Nasir was brought to Morocco because he no longer posed a threat to US national security, the Defense Ministry said on Monday. Morocco had given security guarantees and promised “humane treatment” for Nasir, it said. 39 prisoners remain in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
The camp was set up after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 under Republican President George W. Bush to detain suspected Islamist terrorists without trial. Bush’s successor, Democrat Barack Obama, wanted to close it, but failed due to opposition in the US Congress. The Republican Donald Trump, in turn, wanted to keep the camp open. Now Obama’s former Vice President, today’s President Biden, is trying again to close the camp. The US government is relying on a “considered and thorough process” to “responsibly reduce the number of prisoners,” said the State Department.
What is happening to Nasir in Morocco is unclear
Nasir, who was transferred to Morocco, was directly affected by the political back-and-forth in the USA: a commission set up under Obama recommended his dismissal in 2016. However, the necessary steps could no longer be taken before the change of government – and Trump strictly rejected dismissals from the camp.
Morocco’s public prosecutor’s office announced an investigation against Nasir on suspicion of terrorist acts. The Moroccan authorities and the Pentagon did not provide any information on whether Nasir will now be detained or released in his home country. The US State Department thanked Morocco for its willingness to accept Nasir and appealed to other countries to also accept their citizens who had fought abroad for terrorist organizations.
Many prisoners were tortured in Guantánamo
A senior representative of the White House said ten of the 39 remaining inmates in Guantánamo had already been recommended by the responsible commission for a transfer to their home countries. “The Biden government will use all diplomatic means necessary to facilitate the transfer of those detainees found to be qualified,” said the official. The commission will also examine the status of 17 other detainees. Ten inmates will be tried by a military tribunal, two have already been convicted, the officer said.
The prison camp was set up by the US government after the September 11, 2001 attacks on a military base in eastern Cuba to detain suspected terrorists. The first inmates were housed there in January 2002. According to human rights organizations, many inmates were tortured. A total of almost 800 prisoners were temporarily housed there.
For example, Mauritanian Mohamedou Ould Slahi was detained without charge for more than 14 years and was not released until 2016. In his book “Guantánamo Diary” he describes systematic abuse, from torture and sleep deprivation to sexual assault and threats against family members.