Guantanamo Bay just released detainee Younis Abdurrahman Chekkouri, 46, to Morocco, leaving 115 prisoners left in the detention facility in Cuba, according to a Department of Defense press release.
Following a security review, all six agencies of the Guantanamo Review Task Force unanimously approved the transfer.
Chekkouri was initially captured in late 2001 on suspicion that he fled from Afghanistan to Pakistan with old members of al-Qaida. He escaped, but Pakistan authorities quickly recaptured and turned him over to the United States, at which point he was transferred to Gitmo in May 2002. His entire stay lasted over 13 years.
A DOD memo from 2008 stated that Chekkouri has refused to cooperate by handing over useful information to debriefers, “probably indicating his continued support for Islamic extremism.” He reportedly co-founded the Moroccan Islamic Fighting Group (GICM) and served as a close associate of Osama bin Laden. His central role was coordinating operations between GICM and al-Qaida. He also trained fighters in chemical weapons, military tactics and explosive detonators as part of the Moroccan Training Camp.
“Detainee is assessed to have engaged in hostilities against US and Coalition forces as the GICM senior commander on the Bagram front lines and at Tora Bora,” the report stated.
The assessment noted that without rehabilitation and supervision, Chekkouri would likely fall back into terror activities. Given that the assessment also pointed out that he has family ties both to GICM and al-Qaida, the pull to rejoin may be incredibly strong.
Chekkouri’s release marks the seventh detainee transferred out of the prison in 2015. The Obama administration is now one step closer to shutteringGitmo. During his tenure, Obama has reduced the Gitmo prison population by half, though it’s unclear whether he will meet his campaign goal of closing the facility permanently.
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