Former Detainee Now Al-Qaeda Commander
(WASHINGTON) — A released Guantanamo Bay terror detainee's re-emergence as an al-Qaeda commander in Yemen highlights the difficulty President Barack Obama faces in his efforts to close the detention facility and decide the fates of U.S. captives.
A U.S. counterterror official confirmed Friday that Said Ali al-Shihri, who was jailed at Guantanamo for six years after his capture in Pakistan, has resurfaced as a leader of a Yemeni branch of al-Qaeda
"By Allah, imprisonment only increased our persistence in our principles for which we went out, did jihad for, and were imprisoned for," al-Shihri said in a video posted on a militant-leaning Web site Friday. It was the second time this week a reference to al-Shihri has shown up on the Web site. He was mentioned in an online magazine on Jan. 19 with a reference to his prisoner number at Guantanamo, 372.
Al-Shihri was released by the U.S. in 2007 to the Saudi government for rehabilitation. But this week a publication posted on the site said he is now the top deputy in "al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula," a Yemeni offshoot of the terror group headed by Osama bin Laden. The group has been implicated in several attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Yemen's capital Sana.
The second announcement from the site came the day after President Barack Obama signed an executive order directing the closure of the prison at the U.S. naval base in Cuba within a year.