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Saudi inmate to stay at Guantanamo, another cleared for transfer

Reuters , Monday 20 Oct 2014
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A Saudi inmate with links to al Qaeda will remain at the Guantanamo Bay prison and a second Saudi man has been cleared for transfer home, a U.S. national security panel said on Monday.

Muhammed Abd Al Rahman Awn Al-Shamrani, 39, should stay at the U.S. prison in Cuba because he remains a security threat, the Periodic Review Board said in an online posting.

The panel took into consideration Shamrani's history as a facilitator and recruiter for al Qaeda and for the Taliban in Saudi Arabia and his frontline fighting in Afghanistan, it said.

Shamrani also did not take part in a May review hearing and has had "significant disciplinary infractions" in prison, the posting said. He has been held at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base since January 2002.

A second man, Muhammad Murdi Issa al-Zahrani, who was suspected of fighting in Afghanistan for al Qaeda, was cleared for transfer back to Saudi Arabia.

The panel said it took into account the uncorroborated nature of information about Zahrani's links to al Qaeda as well as his expressions of regret. Once transferred, he will take part in a Saudi rehabilitation program.

A Defense Department profile said Zahrani was 44 or 45 years old. He has been held at Guantanamo since August 2002.

During his hearing in June, Zahrani's military representative argued that he was a lesser threat than five senior Taliban leaders held at Guantanamo who were exchanged for U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, the last U.S. prisoner of war in Afghanistan.

The Periodic Review Board was established to speed up Guantanamo's closing as ordered by President Barack Obama. The prison holds 149 detainees.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel must inform Congress of U.S. intent to transfer inmates. With the latest rulings, the panel has recommended that five prisoners be transferred and that four remain in prison. 

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