WASHINGTON: The last Kuwaiti Guantanamo Bay inmate has been transferred from the US military prison back to Kuwait, the Pentagon announced yesterday, bringing the prison’s remaining population down to 104. “The Department of Defense announced today the repatriation of Fayez Mohammed Ahmed Al-Kandari from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay to the government of the state of Kuwait,” the Pentagon said in a statement.
The US military and intelligence agencies had “determined continued law of war detention of Al-Kandari does not remain necessary,” and that Kandari was no longer considered a significant threat to US security. Kandari’s lawyer, Eric Lewis of the Washington firm Lewis Baach PLLC, said Kandari was transferred yesterday to Kuwait, where he will undergo a medical examination and be put into a rehabilitation program to help him reintegrate into society. “Mr Al-Kandari is delighted to be going home and reuniting with his beloved parents and family after all these years away,” Lewis said.
Kuwait’s Ambassador to the US Sheikh Salem Abdullah Al-Jaber Al-Sabah said a Kuwaiti security team received Kandari, who is on the way home. In a statement to KUNA, Sheikh Salem congratulated HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the Kuwaiti people and Kandari’s family on his release. He added that the decision to set Kandari free embodied the elevated directives by the Amir, and his keenness during contacts with former US president George W Bush and current President Barack Obama, on closing that file.
The release was also the outcome of instructions and unremitting follow-up by First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, he added. In addition, Ambassador Sheikh Salem “proudly” recalled the role and non-stop efforts by the committee of the families of Kuwaiti detainees in Guantanamo over the past years. Kandari’s release is a positive progress in bilateral relations, marking the end of a sensitive issue that has always topped priorities of the Kuwaiti government in contacts with the US, he stressed. “It is the end of a 13-year period which witnessed hard and constant contacts to bring the file to an end.”
Moreover, the move reflects real assessment of Kuwait’s role in countering terrorism, and the serious steps the country has taken in cooperation with the international community in this regard, Sheikh Salem said. Kandari was the last of 12 Kuwaitis who had been imprisoned at Guantanamo. The Kuwaiti government supported the release of its citizens, who unlike a majority of those held at Guantanamo, had high-profile Washington lawyers and public relations firms working to secure their freedom. That effort suffered a setback in 2008 when one of the released prisoners carried out a suicide car bombing in Iraq targeting Iraqi security forces in the northern city of Mosul.
A profile of Kandari released by the Pentagon last year identified Kandari as an Al-Qaeda recruiter and propagandist. It said he also “probably” served as Osama bin Laden’s spiritual adviser. He denied committing any terrorist acts or having any extremist affiliations and was never charged. According to his leaked prison file, published by the New York Times, 40-year-old Kandari was a “committed member” of Al-Qaeda and was an influential religious figure for the group’s fighters in Afghanistan. He was initially captured in Dec 2001, and sent to Guantanamo in May the following year, where inmates are kept without recourse to regular US legal processes and some likely will die in prison without ever being convicted of a crime. – Agencies