Speed Reads

Gitmo No More

Saudi Arabia takes custody of 1st Guantanamo detainee transferred out under Trump

Saudia Arabia confirmed Thursday that it has received Ahmed Mohammed al-Darbi, the first detainee at the U.S. Guantanamo Bay prison camp transferred out during President Trump's time in office. The Pentagon announced al-Darbi's transfer on Wednesday, and he will serve the remaining nine years of his 13-year sentence in a Saudi prison before being transferred to a rehabilitation center for convicted extremists.

In 2014, al-Darbi pleaded guilty before a military tribunal to terrorism-related charges tied to an al Qaeda attack on a French-flagged ship off Yemen in 2002, but he cooperated with prosecutors at Guantanamo. Under the terms of his plea deal, he had been scheduled for transfer to Saudi Arabia by February. He was one of the roughly 780 men the George W. Bush administration imprisoned at Guantanamo, a number that dwindled to 242 by the time Barack Obama took office and 41 when Obama left. There are now 40 detainees at Guantanamo.

Trump had promised to increase the number of prisoners at the military camp, and in January he signed an executive order giving Defense Secretary James Mattis 90 days to issue new guidelines on when to transfer detainees to Guantanamo. On Wednesday, the Pentagon said that Mattis had done that, vaguely proposing putting detainees in Guantanamo "should that person present a continuing, significant threat to the security of the United States." Mattis and other "counterterrorism and security professionals" have "repeatedly argued that other approaches made more practical sense," The New York Times reports.