The emergence of a former Guantánamo Bay detainee as the deputy leader of Al Qaeda’s Yemeni branch has underscored the potential complications in carrying out the executive order President Obama signed Thursday that the detention center be shut down within a year.
The militant, Said Ali al-Shihri, is suspected of involvement in a deadly bombing of the United States Embassy in Yemen’s capital, Sana, in September. He was released to Saudi Arabia in 2007 and passed through a Saudi rehabilitation program for former jihadists before resurfacing with Al Qaeda in Yemen.
His status was announced in an Internet statement by the militant group and was confirmed by an American counterintelligence official.
To have this come out the same day that Obama ordered Gitmo to be closed in a year's time is not good. But it does highlight the problem that Obama faces. Yes, closing Gitmo is a good idea, but what do you do with the people who are there? Not all of these people are simply people at the wrong place at the wrong time.
It's not a secret that Guantanamo has sullied the reputation of America. But the other side of that coin is that there are people who do seek to do harm. The question remains how to close the camp without sending people back to their homeland to do ill.
Maybe that's why Obama wants a year to do this.