Old News: Gitmo Detainee Released in 2007 Involved in Al Qaida in Yemen
It's been known for a long time that Said Ali al Shihri, believed to be al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula's (AQAP) second-in-command was released from Guantanamo to Saudi Arabia in November 2007. Same for the second Guantanamo detainee Muhamad Attik al-Harbi, whose name is now Abu-al-Harith Muhammad al-Awfi. In other words, this ABC news story is not news.
Both were featured in the January, 2009 video announcing the formation of AQAP contained in Sada al-Malahim, (Arabic for “The Echo of Battle”), the group's online magazine. In January, 2009, the Stratford Group, had this long article on AQAP, the two released Gitmo detainees and why the Saudi's "rehabilitation" efforts to deprogram and reprogram them may have failed. [More...]
It's inevitable some of the released Guantanamo detainees may become militant or revert to militantism, particularly when some were tortured and all were subjected to overly harsh interrogation methods and conditions of confinement. It's a fallacy to say most of them will. Refusing to release remaining detainees with no demonstrated ties to terrorism would be a mistake.
It's news, as we already reported, that AQAP is taking credit for Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's failed explosive device on Christmas day. But it's not clear that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had any contact with released detainees or with the leadership of AQAP.
As for being retaliation for the Yemen strikes, one of which was on 12/17 and one on 12/23, it doesn't seem likely to me the group could have hatched the plot and moblized him in two days time. An aviation official said Abdulmutallab bought his ticket in Ghana on Dec. 16, before either raid.
Much more investigation into Abdulmutallab's contacts and whereabouts is still needed. His cell phone records and passport entries should provide some of that. As I wrote earlier, his roommate says he was in Yemen from July through October. Where was he after that, up until he snuck into Nigeria on Dec. 24th? Who recruited him?
Update: And, it appears al Harbi, aka al Awfi, may have since renounced AQAP.
Al-Awfi, who had appeared in a January 2009 video issued by the newly created AQAP after the merger of the Saudi and Yemeni nodes of the global jihadist network, was a senior AQAP leader, and his renouncement was a major blow against AQAP.
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