This picture has been circulated on social media, including by jihadists. It shows the four former Guantanamo detainees after their transfer to Afghanistan.
On Dec. 20, the Defense Department announced the transfer of four Afghans from Guantanamo to their home country. All four had been previously approved for transfer by President Obama’s Guantanamo Review Task Force.
It is often reported that detainees, such as the four transferred to Afghanistan, have been “cleared for release.” The implication is that they had been “cleared” of any wrongdoing and their release is risk-free. But this is not true. The task force recommended that all four be transferred subject to “appropriate security measures” being enacted by the host country. That is, the task force expected that whichever country took the four Afghans, the local government would take steps to ensure that they did not pose a threat. In practice, such security measures are often non-existent.
Joint Task Force Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO), which oversees the detention facility, assessed the four Afghan detainees years earlier. The secret JTF-GTMO threat assessments for the four detainees — Mohommod Zahir, Khil Ali Gul, Abdul Ghani, and Shawali Khan — were authored in 2008 and subsequently leaked online.
In each case, JTF-GTMO deemed the detainee to be “high risk,” who “is likely to pose a threat to the US, its interests, and allies.” JTF-GTMO recommended that all four remain in the Defense Department’s custody.
Three of the JTF-GTMO threat assessments also begin with a warning: “If released without rehabilitation, close supervision, and means to successfully reintegrate into his society as a law-abiding citizen, it is assessed detainee would probably seek out prior associates and reengage in hostilities and extremist support activities.” Only the file for Zahir does not include this language…