The Blog

Obama's War on Terror?

3:47 PM, Jan 24, 2009 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

Barack Obama was sworn in Tuesday. He ordered Guantanamo closed on Thursday. And today comes news that the United States plans to send 94 Yemeni detainees from Guantanamo back to Yemen -- a nation with a long history of accommodating terrorists.

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh made the announcement today at a security conference in Sana'a. "Now, within 60-90 days, 94 Yemeni detainees will be here among us," he said.

The Yemen Observer reports that US Ambassador to Yemen Stephen Seche expressed his hope that the detainees would be able to "make a future for themselves" back in Yemen. Seche made his comments to Stephen Kaufman of

"We are going to have to find a way to relocate them at some point. Certainly we would like to be able to bring them back to Yemen and have them integrate themselves back into their own society with their families and make a future for themselves here," Seche said.

He added: "Except in the case perhaps of some very hard-core elements, we believe that the majority of these detainees can be put productively into a … reintegration program with the goal over time of enabling them to find a way back into Yemeni society without posing a security risk."

And who will make that determination? Let's hope it's not the Yemeni government -- a regime that never quite accepted the "with-us-or-against-us" paradigm of George W. Bush's war on terror and insisted on both. At various times, Yemen has released high-ranking al Qaeda terrorists, including Jamal Ahmed al Badawi, the mastermind of the attack on the USS Cole in October 2000. When they're not releasing terrorists outright, Yemeni prisons seem subject to a surprising number of "escapes," such as this one in February of 2006, when al Badawi and 12 other al Qaeda terrorists.

Saleh's announcement comes on the heels of a New York Times story about Abu Sufyan al-Azdi al-Shahri, who was released from Guantanamo and now serves as a leader of Al Qaeda in Yemen. Al Shahri is now appearing in a new al Qaeda video, along with another terrorist released from Guantanamo Bay.

Are Saleh's comments accurate? Will the Obama administration release 94 Yemeni detainees from Guantanamo to Yemen? Does President Obama share the views of his Ambassador to Yemen that the majority of Yemeni Gitmo detainees should be allowed to return to their native country to "make a future for themselves" back home?

Is this Barack Obama's War on Terror?