Ex-Guantanamo detainee Moazzam Begg was arrested earlier today as part of raid conducted by counterterrorism officials in the UK. Begg has spent most of his time living in the UK following his release from Guantanamo in 2005. He is one of the most prolific anti-Guantanamo advocates.
The State Department today designated three Ansar al Sharia organizations, as well as three of their leaders, as terrorist entities. The State Department reports that Ansar al Sharia in Derna was “involved” in the September 11, 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi. Former Guantanamo detainee Sufian Ben Qumu, who long served al Qaeda, is named as “the leader” of Ansar al Sharia in Derna.
The Washington Postreports that U.S. officials suspect Sufian Ben Qumu, an ex-Guantanamo detainee, “played a role in the attack on the American compound in Benghazi, Libya, and are planning to designate the group he leads as a foreign terrorism organization.” Ben Qumu is based in Derna, Libya and runs a branch of Ansar al Sharia headquartered in the city.
An interesting thing happened when McClatchy newspaper’s Tim Johnson went looking for two former Guantanamo detainees in El Salvador. He discovered they had left the country. A State Department spokesman says the U.S. government is aware of their departure, but “will not comment on the specifics of their decision to resettle elsewhere or their current whereabouts.” According to sources familiar with the men, who are ethnic Uighurs, it seems likely they have relocated to Turkey.
An unclassified version of a September report from the Director of National Intelligence reveals that another five former Guantanamo Bay detainees have either been confirmed as reengaging in terrorism or are suspected of doing so. The report comes just as a judge in Algeria has approved parole of two detainees recently transferred to Algerian custody from the Cuba-based detention facility.
In a newly released video, Ayman al Zawahiri, confederate and successor of Osama bin Laden, vows to free al Qaeda’s “imprisoned brothers” at Guantánamo. Seeking to capitalize on the controversy over the U.S. government’s force-feeding of some detainees, Zawahiri says the ongoing hunger strike exposes “the real odious and ugly face of America.”
Oddly, Zawahiri’s opinion of the hunger strike, and Guantánamo, is similar to President Obama’s.
The White House press secretary announced that the Obama administration will be sending two Gitmo inmates to Algeria.
"As the President has said, the United States remains determined to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. In support of those efforts, today the Department of Defense certified to Congress its intent to repatriate an additional two detainees to Algeria. We are taking this step in consultation with the Congress, and in a responsible manner that protects our national security," Carney's statement reads.
Shortly after opening its political office in Doha, Qatar earlier this week, the Taliban floated the idea of exchanging U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who has been in captivity since 2009, for the top five Taliban leaders in U.S. custody at Guantanamo. The offer, which has been a longstanding Taliban demand, was first reported by the Associated Press.
Thursday, at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Gary Robbins delivered another response to the "many concerns" expressed by Russia about the ongoing hunger strike by many of the terrorist detainees at the Guantánamo Bay facility:
President Barack Obama talked about Gitmo prisoners today and said, "I don't want these individuals to die."
"For a lot of Americans, the notion is out of sight, out of mind," Obama said, after referring to his failed attempt to close the terrorist prison. "It's easy to demagogue the issue. That's what happened the first time this came up. I'm going to go back at it because I think it's important."
White House spokesman Jay Carney took a minute before his press briefing today to reflect. "I want to welcome you to the first full day of the President’s second term. It’s a tremendous honor and privilege to be here working for this President and for the country," the former Time magazine journalist said.