By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - The US has approved the transfer of five detainees from the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba with nearly half of the remaining prisoner population there now being cleared for release.
In all, three Yemeni nationals have been approved for transfer, including Moath Hamza al-Alwi, Suhayl al-Sharabi and Omar Muhammad Ali al-Rammah, according to a series of decisions from a government review panel released by the Pentagon. They are joined by Kenyan national Mohammed Abdul Malik Bajabu and Somali national Guled Hassan Duran.
Should he be released, Duran would be the first high-value prisoner freed from Guantanamo. None of the prisoners have been charged during their detention.
There are some 39 individuals who continue to be imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, with 18 now being approved for transfer. Ten prisoners are in the midst of military trials, including some who have charges pending, are in pre-trial proceedings, or whose trials are ongoing. Two inmates have been convicted in military courts.
Fourteen other inmates are eligible to be considered by the Periodic Review Board, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Tuesday.
Khalid Ahmed Qasim, a Yemeni whose case was reviewed in December along with Bajabu, al-Alwi and al-Rammah, was denied release by the Periodic Review Board. He faces a forthcoming full review in May.
The Biden administration will now be tasked with finding countries willing to take the five other individuals. The process is complicated by the fact that Yemen, where three of the approved detainees hail from, is ineligible to take them because it cannot meet the security assurances necessary under the law.
Oman and Saudi Arabia have, in the past, taken former Guantanamo prisoners.