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Terror Suspect Held At Guantanamo Bay For 20 Years Is Sent Home

Terror Suspect Held At Guantanamo Bay For 20 Years Is Sent Home

Sufyian Barhoumi was first captured in Pakistan in 2002, accused of being a bomb-maker

An Algerian man imprisoned at Guantánamo Bay for 20 years has been repatriated.

Sufyian Barhoumi, 48, was first captured in Pakistan back in March 2002 and transported to the US base's notorious detention centre in Cuba.

Military prosecutors earlier believed he instructed people how to make bombs at a safe house in the Punjab region of Pakistan, and was taken into custody as a terror suspect.

However, this case had to be abandoned after it was ruled the Pentagon couldn't charge the civilian offence of 'providing material support to terrorism' as a war crime, Barhoumi’s lawyer Shayana Kadidal said, as per The New York Times.

The US government also had no evidence to support this charge, Kadidal added.

In 2016, a report by the review board at the prison determined he was involved with various extremist groups, but he wasn't a member of al-Qaeda or the Taliban, and was therefore approved for release.

However, towards the end of Barack Obama's presidency, the Pentagon decided not to send him home, and a federal judge in Washington refused to intervene to make sure he was repatriated as earlier approved.

Guantanamo Bay.

When Donald Trump came to power, transfers out of Guantánamo Bay were halted. Barhoumi's release was rejected 'based on a variety of substantive concerns, shared by multiple agencies,' former Defence Secretary Ash Carter argued.

Barhoumi even considered pleading guilty in 2012 in the hopes it would give him a fixed sentence, so he'd know for certain when he'd get to go home.

However, Joe Biden's administration has been making small steps towards closing the facility, with Barhoumi being the president's third release since being elected.

In a statement, the Pentagon said: "The United States appreciates the willingness of Algeria and other partners to support ongoing US efforts toward a deliberate and thorough process focused on responsibly reducing the detainee population and ultimately closing of the Guantánamo Bay facility."

A Guantanamo Bay protest.

Kadidal said: "Our government owes Sufyian and his mother years of their lives back.

"I'm overjoyed that he will be home with his family, but I will dearly miss his constant good humor and empathy for the suffering of others in the utterly depressing environment of Guantánamo."

The Algerian government has assured Barhoumi will be treated humanely upon his return, in addition to a number of security measures to reduce the risk of him posing any threat in the future. While unconfirmed, this could include travel restrictions.

Guantánamo Bay now holds 37 men, including 18 deemed eligible to return home or resettle in a third country.

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Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: US News