The United States has approved the release of two Guantanamo detainees.
According to decisions filed by the Pentagon, the US government has allowed the release of two more of the 39 wartime detainees held for years at the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Sanad Yislam al-Kazimi of Yemen and Assadullah Haroon Gul, also known as Haroon al-Afghani, of Afghanistan, both received approval for their release on October 7, according to records issued by the Guantanamo Periodic Review Board.
Kazimi, 51, has spent 17 years in Guantanamo as a low-level bodyguard for Al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden.
Kazimi was apprehended in Dubai in November 2002 and given over to US officials the following year, where he was interviewed by the CIA in Afghanistan before being sent to Guantanamo Bay in 2004, where he was deemed too dangerous to be released for years.
Given the volatile circumstances in Yemen, the review board, which includes high-ranking US security officials, suggested that Kazimi be transferred to neighboring Oman, which has a Guantanamo detainee rehabilitation program.
The release order noted Kazimi’s “lack of a leadership role in an extremist organization and the limited length of his relationships with (Al-Qaeda) members” after years of being incarcerated at Guantanamo without trial as a substantial threat.
Gul, 40, has been a “dangerous terror suspect” in Guantanamo since June 2007 as an Islamist militia commander and Al-Qaeda courier.
His release was previously denied by the review board, but the current decision cited his “lack of leadership role in extremist organizations and his lack of a strong ideological basis for his prior conduct,” as well as his “remorse for the impact of past activity.”
Out of the 39 detainees still held at Guantanamo, the recent verdicts increased the number of inmates deemed fit for release to 12.
To accept and oversee them, the State Department must negotiate agreements with possible recipient countries.
In Gul’s case, this might mean giving him over to the Taliban regime, which is aligned with Al-Qaeda and seized power in August.
President Joe Biden’s administration has shown signs of being inclined to release additional Guantanamo captives after his predecessor, Donald Trump, put a stop to them.
Ten of the 27 others at Guantanamo who have not been approved for release are now on trial, including the architect of the September 11 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
Two people have been found guilty, and the fate of the others is unknown.