A White House spokesman said Jan. 5 that the US government will suspend transfers of Guantánamo Bay detainees to Yemen. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs made the announcement at his daily briefing amid increasing political pressure not to transfer any more detainees to Yemen after it was revealed that the man who attempted to detonate an explosive device on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 last month received al-Qaeda training in Yemen.
Evidently blind to his own self-contradiction, Gibbs said: “One of the very first things that al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula used as a recruiting tool was the existence of Guantánamo Bay… And I think that, while we remain committed to closing the facility, the determination has been made that right now any additional transfers to Yemen is not a good idea.”
Most of the nearly 200 detainees remaining at Guantanamo are Yemeni, and many detainees have been transferred back to Yemen. Earlier Jan. 5, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld the detention of Yemeni Guantánamo detainee Ghaleb Nassar Al-Bihani, ruling that he can remain in US custody (Jurist, Jan. 5)