US sends 10 Guantanamo Bay detainees to Oman
A concise announcement from the Omani News Agency in Muscat said Sultan Qaboos Bin Said has agreed to take in the men “in consideration to their humanitarian situation.” It described their status there as being in “temporary residence.”
There was no immediate word from the US Defense Department about the transfer.
The Miami Herald reported Oman as “the largest Guantanamo resettlement nation” with the sultanate accepting 20 captives in three transfers “of 10, four and six men in January 2016 and in 2015.”
The men had previously been approved for transfer but remained in limbo because they came from Yemen, which is considered unstable, since the country has been in a state of political crisis since 2011, coupled with an ongoing Saudi-led military assault.
During his election campaign, outgoing US President Barack Obama promised to close the controversial military prison, arguing it served as a recruiting tool for Islamic State. There were 242 prisoners at the site when he took office. After Monday’s announcement there are 45 remaining. As Obama tried to meet his campaign promise, he was met with strong opposition from Congressional lawmakers worried that downsizing the facility and housing detainees in US state prisons would make it targets for reprisals.
In November 2015, Congress issued a ban on transferring detainees to US soil for any reason, including trial.
The US opened the prison at the US naval base in Cuba to hold “militants” suspected of ties to al-Qaeda and Taliban after the 9/11 attacks. Most were never charged with a crime, but their indefinite detention, sometimes as long as 14 years, and their mistreatment triggered international criticism.
US officials said 19 of the remaining 55 prisoners at the military prison were cleared for release and could be freed in the final days of Obama’s presidency, AP reported.
A September report released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said 122 of the 693 detainees transferred out of the prison, or 17.6 percent returned to fighting.
Most of the 693 detainees held at Guantanamo were transferred under the Bush administration. Of Bush’s transfers, 21 percent were confirmed to have re-engaged in military activities. Only 9 of the 161 detainees transferred by Obama, or 6 percent, have resumed fighting, according to AP.
The majority of Guantanamo prisoners have been sent to Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.
President-elect Donald Trump tweeted two weeks ago for a cessation in transfers, a request the Obama White House rejected, arguing “these are extremely dangerous people.”
During his campaign, Trump said not only does he want to keep the military prison open, but also "load it up with some bad dudes."