Long-suspected al-Qaeda member Al-Sharbi has been returned to Saudi Arabia by the US after being held without trial for over two decades in Guantanamo Bay. The 48-year-old had attended flight school classes in Arizona with two men who would later hijack planes during the September 11 terror attack.
Al-Sharbi had studied aeronautical engineering at an Arizona university while already holding an electrical engineering degree from King Fahd University in Saudi Arabia.
The decision to release him was made in February 2022 by a review board that concluded that his detention was no longer necessary to protect the national security of the United States from a significant threat.
However, Al Sharbi’s return to Saudi Arabia is subject to strict security measures, including monitoring, travel restrictions, and ongoing information sharing.
The Pentagon’s Periodic Review Board determined that Al Sharbi did not hold a leadership or facilitator position in al-Qaeda and that he was compliant while in detention.
It recommended he be transferred out of Guantanamo subject to “a comprehensive set of security measures including monitoring, travel restrictions and continued information sharing.”
Saudi Arabia — the country from which most of the 9/11 hijackers came — long has had facilities for detaining and rehabilitating extremists.
The Board also noted that Al Sharbi had unspecified physical and mental health issues.
US authorities had accused Al Sharbi of fleeing to Pakistan after the 9/11 attacks and receiving bomb-making training.
He was arrested the following year and sent to Guantanamo, where he was allegedly tortured in custody.
Although the US military had considered charging Al Sharbi and others, they dropped the charges in 2008.
Despite never being charged with a crime, Al Sharbi was not approved for release, and the US continued to detain him as an enemy fighter.
The release of Al Sharbi from Guantanamo Bay means that there are currently 31 detainees remaining at the detention camp.
This is a significant decrease from the number of detainees at the peak of the War on Terror, which was nearly 800.
Out of the remaining 31 detainees, 17 are eligible for transfer to other countries, and the Pentagon and US State Department are actively seeking nations to accept them.
In addition to those eligible for transfer, three detainees are qualified for a Periodic Review Board review, which will determine whether their continued detention is necessary for national security reasons.
Meanwhile, nine detainees are facing charges under military commissions, which are legal proceedings that take place outside of the traditional court system, and two have already been convicted through these commissions.
*This story has not been edited by The Infallible staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.