A Guantanamo Bay detainee accused of trying to join the 9/11 hijackers was sent to Saudi Arabia for “treatment for mental illness,” the Pentagon announced Monday.
Mohammad Mani Ahmad al-Qahtani has been held in the Cuba-based prison since 2002.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin informed Congress last month that al-Qahtani would be sent home.
“After two decades without trial in U.S. custody, Mohammed will now receive the psychiatric care he has long needed in Saudi Arabia, with the support of his family,” Ramzi Kassem, the law professor at the City University of New York who represented al-Qahtani, said. “Keeping him at Guantanamo, where he was tortured, and then repeatedly attempted suicide, would have been a likely death sentence.”
The following is the full statement from the Department of Defense:
On June 9, 2021, the Periodic Review Board process determined that law of war detention of Mohammad Mani Ahmad al-Qahtani was no longer necessary to protect against a continuing significant threat to the national security of the United States. Therefore, the PRB recommended that al-Qahtani be repatriated to his native country of Saudi Arabia, subject to security and humane treatment assurances.
On Feb. 4, 2022, Secretary of Defense Austin notified Congress of his intent to repatriate al-Qahtani to Saudi Arabia. In consultation with our Saudi partners, we completed the requirements for responsible transfers.
The United States appreciates the willingness of Saudi Arabia and other partners to support ongoing U.S. efforts toward a deliberate and thorough process focused on responsibly reducing the detainee population and ultimately closing of the Guantanamo Bay facility.
The PRB process was established by the President’s March 7, 2011 Executive Order 13567. It is consistent with section 1023 of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2012 and affirmed in Executive Order 13823 (January 30, 2018).
The PRB panel consists of one senior career official each from the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Justice, and State, along with the Joint Staff and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
Today, 38 detainees remain at Guantanamo Bay: 19 are eligible for transfer; 7 are eligible for a Periodic Review Board; 10 are involved in the military commissions process; and two detainees have been convicted in military commissions.