The Pentagon announced Saturday that four detainees have been sent home to Afghanistan from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay as part of the U.S. government's ongoing release of former terrorism suspects who have been held for years.
Shawali Khan, Khi Ali Gul, Abdul Ghani, and Mohammed Zahir are the latest identified suspects to be released from the detention center at the U.S. naval base in southern Cuba, according to a Pentagon statement.
"The United States is grateful to the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan for its willingness to support ongoing U.S. efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility," the statement said.
The release follows a comprehensive review by a Guantanamo task force that examines a number of factors, including security issues. The men were unanimously approved for release, the Pentagon said.
Today, 132 detainees remain at Guantanamo Bay.
Obama pledged to close Guantanamo with his first executive order in 2009 and launched a case-by-case review during his first year in office to determine which of the foreign detainees could be prosecuted, which posed no danger to U.S. or allied security and should be released or transferred, and which should remain imprisoned due to credible fears they would resume terrorist activity if sent home.
But Congress acted to prevent the transfer to U.S. federal courts of those to be tried for war crimes, and imposed restrictions on the transfer of detainees for resettlement abroad. Those restrictions were eased a year ago and the administration's move to relocate prisoners deemed non-threatening have accelerated in recent weeks.
The U.S. has released around two dozen prisoners this year.
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