Ahmed Ould Abdel Aziz has been repatriated after 13 years behind bars, according to Pentagon
WASHINGTON DC: A Mauritanian detainee at the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Ahmed Ould Abdel Aziz, has been repatriated after 13 years behind bars, the Pentagon said Thursday, as Washington pursues efforts to close the facility.
President Barack Obama has pledged to close the military prison in Cuba, but has struggled to move forward due to opposition in Congress and pushback from countries reluctant to take in one-time terror suspects.
The 45-year-old detainee, an alleged member of an Al-Qaeda cell who later fled to Afghanistan and fought there, was captured in June 2002 in the southern Pakistani port city of Karachi.
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He was first held at the US detention center at Bagram north of the Afghan capital Kabul before being transferred to the US military prison in Cuba in October that year, according to Defense Department documents made public by WikiLeaks.
He is alleged to have fought in Afghanistan against the US-backed anti-Taliban Northern Alliance — and possibly against US and coalition forces.
“The United States is grateful to the Government of Mauritania for its willingness to support ongoing US efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility,” the Pentagon said in a statement.
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“The United States coordinated with the Government of Mauritania to ensure this transfer took place consistent with appropriate security and humane treatment measures.”
In 2013, Abdel Aziz had been reported released in Nouakchott — a claim swiftly denied by the Pentagon.
The Pentagon said 113 detainees remain in the prison, which was opened to hold terror suspects following the September 11, 2001 attacks.