All 15 of the detainee’s released by President Obama on Saturday were deemed “High” risk in Department of Defense reviews.
Each detainee’s DOD review, according to The New York Times Guantanamo Docket, classified him as “High Risk” and noted “he is likely to pose a threat to the U.S., its interests, and its allies.” Several of the detainee’s were also classified as “HIGH intelligence value.” The reviews were conducted while former President George W. Bush was in office.
After Obama took office he issued an executive order in 2009 calling for a new comprehensive review process, which paved the way for the Saturday release.
“The terrorists this administration just released include individuals who fought on the frontlines against U.S. and other coalition forces, targeted U.S. personnel with explosives, served as bin Laden bodyguards, and acted as al Qaeda IED experts,” Senator Kelly Ayotte said in a statement on Monday.
The release was the largest single transfer of Guantanamo bay prisoners since Obama took office. Obama has made it a priority to close Guantanamo bay, believing its presence serves a recruiting tool for jihadist groups like al-Qaida and the Islamic State. 61 detainee’s remain in custody at Guantanamo Bay, and Obama has signalled he would like to close the prison before he leaves office.
Guantanamo detainee’s have a history of returning to terrorist activity upon release. In early July, former Guantanamo bay detainee Abu Wa’el Dhiab wentmissing in South America, after he likely bordered a flight with a fake passport. Dhiab was released to Uruguay by the Obama administration in 2014. Uruguay insisted Dhiab may travel freely without restriction, raising questions about the safety of releasing known terrorists to countries willing to take them.
In 2007 the U.S. released Taliban commander Abdul Qayyum Zakir from Guantanamo Bay to the government of Afghanistan. Zakir was subsequently released from Afghan prison for no apparent reason whatsoever and returned to the Afghan battlefield as a senior commander. Zakir is reportedly heading military operations in Helmand province, where hundreds of U.S. marines died between 2001-2014.