How did a terror suspect end up back with al-Qaida?

A developing story today highlights the difficulties that President Barack Obama faces with his order to close the Guantanamo Bay jail for suspected terrorists: What to do with the people who are there now?

The New York Times reports that a released “terror detainee” is now a commander of al-Qaida in Yemen. Said an Associated Press report:

Al-Shihri was released by the U.S. in 2007 to the Saudi government for rehabilitation. But this week a publication posted on a militant-leaning Web site said he is now the top deputy in “al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula,” a Yemeni offshoot of the terror group headed by Osama bin Laden. The group has been implicated in several attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Yemen’s capital Sana.

The story raises a couple of immediate questions:

  • Why was the suspect released?
  • How is it a suspect released to the Saudi government for “rehabilitation,” ends up in Yemen as a commander of al-Qaida?

    Unclassified Pentagon documents on his case listed plenty of reasons — and evidence — for keeping him in custody…. somewhere. But the reasons listed for his release presumed he wasn’t lying. He was.



    There’s a little something for both sides of the Guantanamo Bay issue, a casual read of blogs and Web sites reveals this afternoon. On the one hand, some Republicans point to Al-Shihri’s renewed terrorism career as a reason why Guantanamo Bay should stay open. Some Democrats point out that incompetence led to a terror leader “returning to the fight.”

    An aside: Do you suppose anyone in Republican circles clipped the front page of Friday’s Star Tribune — the one with the misleading headline — to be used in an ad for the 2012 presidential campaign?