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Last Kuwaiti detainee in Guantanamo released, on way home – Amir congratulated

Fayez Al-Kandari
Fayez Al-Kandari

WASHINGTON, Jan 8, (Agencies): A Kuwaiti security team has received the last remaining Kuwaiti detainee at Guantanamo, Fayez Al-Kandari, who is now on the way home, the country’s Ambassador to the US Sheikh Salem Abdullah Al-Jaber Al-Sabah said on Friday. In a statement to KUNA, Sheikh Salem congratulated His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the Kuwaiti people and Al-Kandari’s family on the release of the ex-detainee.

He added that the decision to set Al-Kanderi free embodied the elevated directives by His Highness the Amir, and his keenness during contacts with former US president George W. Bush and current Barack Obama, on closing that file.

The release was also the outcome of instructions and unremitting follow-up by First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, he added. In addition, Ambassador Sheikh Salem “proudly” recalled the role, and non-stop efforts by the committee of the families of Kuwaiti detainees in Guantanamo, over the past years.

Al-Kandari’s release is a positive progress in bilateral relations, marking the end of a sensitive issue that has always topped priorities of the Kuwaiti government in contacts with the US, he stressed. “It is the end of a 13-years period, which witnessed hard efforts and constant contacts to bring the file to an end.”

Moreover, the move reflects real assessment of Kuwait’s role in countering terrorism, and the serious steps the country has taken in cooperation with the international community in this regard, Sheikh Salem said. Meanwhile, the Pentagon issued a statement Friday saying Fayez Al-Kandari does not constitute a threat to the security of US anymore based on a review by the US intelligence agency. In the same context, the brother of Al-Kandari in a phone chat with Al-Seyassah newspaper stated that his father and mother cut short their overseas medical treatment and returned Kuwait to receive their son who has been gone for 15 years, stressing the return of his brother is a joy to the entire family.

He extended appreciation to HH the Amir, the Kuwaiti government, National Assembly and Kuwaiti nation for their support and follow up of his brother’s file until his release. He reiterated his brother will be referred to the Military Hospital upon arrival for three-day medical examination. Al-Kandari was sent back to his homeland after a review by six US government departments and agencies concluded it was no longer necessary to continue holding him after nearly 14 years at Guantanamo, the Pentagon said in announcing the release.

A profile of al-Kandari released by the Pentagon last year identified him as an al-Qaeda recruiter and propagandist. It said he also “probably” served as Osama bin Laden’s spiritual adviser. He denied committing any terrorist acts or having any extremist affiliations and was never charged. His attorney, Eric Lewis, said al- Kandari would undergo a medical examination and then be placed in rehabilitation program set up by the Kuwaiti government to help former Guantanamo prisoners re-integrate into society in the Persian Gulf nation. “Mr al-Kandari is delighted to be going home and reuniting with his beloved parents and family after all these years away,” Lewis said.

The lawyer said the former prisoner “looks forward to resuming a peaceful life and to putting Guantanamo behind him.” It was the third release this week, following the resettlement of two Yemenis in the West African nation of Ghana, and reduces the Guantanamo prisoner population to 104.

The military is expected to free a total of 17 from Guantanamo this month. President Barack Obama has said he wants to reduce the number of lowlevel detainees and move the remainder to the US, a policy that is opposed by many in Congress. Al-Kandari was the last of 12 Kuwaiti citizens held in Guantanamo since it opened in January 2002 to hold prisoners suspected of links to al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Khalid Shaikh Mohammad, a prisoner at the base who has claimed responsibility for orchestrating the Sept 11, 2001, terrorist attack, grew up in Kuwait but is a Pakistani national. He is facing trial by military commission with four co-defendants at the base.

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