The radical Muslim attempted plane bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who spent time in Yemen with al-Qaeda and was in that country only days before the failed attack, has told authorities that other militants – perhaps hundreds of them – are planning similar acts of terrorism. Two recent transfers claim to be the masterminds behind the Christmas Day near-tragedy.
Yet Barack Obama is committed to repatriating Yemenis held at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Yemenis account for 46 percent of the 210 inmates remaining at the facility. Three of those Yemenis have been ordered released by federal judges following proceedings in which they challenged their detention under the doctrine of habeas corpus. At least 34 Yemenis have already been cleared for release.
And officials in Yemen, the poorest Arab nation, insist that they need financial assistance from the United States to successfully reintegrate returning detainees. The implied threat is “No money, we can’t hold them.”
Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-VA), a critic of Obama’s policy, said Yemeni detainees pose a particular risk because of the instability of their home country. “Stop. These men are dangerous,” Wolf said when asked about the transfer. “I believe they will be involved in terrorism that will cost American lives.” He has sent five letters to Obama urging him to halt the releases.
Bin Laden has close ties to Yemen, where his father was born. In 2000, al-Qaeda bombers attacked the USS Cole in the southern city of Aden, killing 17 American sailors. Since then, militants have carried out a string of attacks on U.S. missionaries, foreign tourists and Yemeni security forces. Last year, heavily armed gunmen targeted the U.S. Embassy with a car bomb and rockets. The attack killed 16, including six assailants, the Washington Post reports.
Most of us know little about the country. Yemen’s government has been enmeshed in a civil war in the north, a secessionist movement in the south and general crises as the impoverished county’s economy crumbles further. In this void, al-Qaeda has steadily grown, using the nation’s vast lawless, rugged terrain as a haven.
And Abdulmutallab? Although he was allowed to board an American airliner to Detroit, despite his father‘s pleas to the U.S. embassy regarding his radicalism and instability, Britain banned him, placing him on a “watch list” this year. Homeland INsecurity chieftain, Janet Napolitano was less concerned.