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U.S. Board Says Saudi Bomb Maker Should Stay at Guantánamo

Ghassan Abdallah al-Sharbi is one of 76 prisoners still being held, including 32 approved for release

An image of Camp X-Ray in a Nov. 21, 2013 photo revised by the U.S. military, a dentention center at Guanánamo Bay, Cuba, for members of Al Qaeda and the Taliban, photo: AP/Charles Dharapak
1 year ago

MIAMI — A review board has decided that a Saudi prisoner at Guantánamo Bay who attended flight school in the U.S. and was trained to make explosives by al-Qaida should continue to be held without charge.

The Periodic Review Board said in a decision released Friday that Ghassan Abdallah al-Sharbi should remain in custody at the U.S. base in Cuba because he remains a security threat.

Factors cited by the board include what it said was his past involvement in terrorism as well as “hostile behavior” while detained, including organizing confrontations between detainees and the guard force at the detention center.

A short statement added that “the board considered the detainee’s prior statements expressing support for attacking the United States, and the detainee’s refusal to discuss his plans for the future.”

The 41-year-old al-Sharbi attended Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona, and later went to a U.S. flight school, where he “associated with” two of the hijackers in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack, according to a profile released by the Pentagon before his review board hearing in June.

Authorities said he later received training by al-Qaida in the manufacture of improvised explosive devices and was captured in a raid on a terrorist safe house in Pakistan in 2002.

He faced charges that included providing material support for terrorism before the military commission at the base. But U.S. courts have ruled that material support at the time of the alleged offenses did not constitute a war crime that could be prosecuted at Guantánamo and the case was withdrawn. He cannot be tried in civilian court because Congress has prohibited the transfer of Guantánamo detainees to the U.S. for any reason, including prosecution.

Al-Sharbi is one of 76 prisoners held at Guantánamo, including 32 who have been approved for release and are awaiting transfer.

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