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U.S. divulges new details on released Gitmo inmates

May 15, 2007

U.S. divulges new details on released Gitmo inmates

By David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon on Monday released the names of six former Guantanamo detainees who U.S. officials say re-emerged as Islamist fighters in Afghanistan after their release from the U.S. military prison in Cuba. 

The Defense Department said three of those released from the prison for suspected militants resurfaced as senior Islamist fighters in Afghanistan while a fourth was later identified as having been a Taliban deputy defense minister. 

In this photo reviewed by U.S. military officials, a detainee, walks past cell doors at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base, Cuba June 27, 2006. The Pentagon on Monday released the names of six former Guantanamo detainees who U.S. officials say re-emerged as Islamist fighters in Afghanistan after their release. (REUTERS/Brennan Linsley)
The six were among 30 former detainees who the Pentagon said have rejoined the fight against U.S. and coalition forces since their release from Guantanamo. All told, about 390 detainees have been released or transferred from the prison. 

"While we have long maintained that we would like to close Guantanamo, there are a number of highly dangerous men who if released would pose a grave danger to the public," explained Pentagon spokesman, Navy Cmdr. J.D. Gordon. 

Pentagon officials said the detainees lied about their past by claiming to be farmers, truck drivers, cooks, small-scale merchants or low-level combatants -- assertions that were sometimes backed up by fellow inmates. 

The disclosure comes as the Pentagon prepares a major analysis of classified detainee records that could be used to rebut critics who have called for the prison's closure by saying many of the 775 detainees who have been held at Guantanamo are innocent. 

Defense officials said the large-scale analysis has been under way for several months and could result in the release of new unclassified information on detainees by early summer. 

The Guantanamo prison now has about 385 inmates. Records on 517 current and former detainees show that 95 percent have been members of or associated with al Qaeda or the Taliban and that 73 percent participated in hostilities against U.S. or coalition forces, defense officials said. 

The analysis is a response to a series of highly critical reports by Seton Hall University law professor Mark Denbeaux, which found only a small number of Guantanamo detainees who had fought against U.S. forces. 

Among the six detainees identified on Monday was Mohamed Yusif Yaqub, who the Pentagon said assumed control of Taliban operations in Southern Afghanistan after his release from Guantanamo, died fighting U.S. forces on May 7, 2004. 

Abdullah Mahsud was released only to become a militant leader within the Mahsud tribe in southern Waziristan with ties to the Taliban and al Qaeda. He directed the October 2004 kidnapping of two Chinese engineers in Pakistan, the Pentagon said. 

Maulavi Abdul Ghaffar became the Taliban's regional commander in Uruzgan and Helmand provinces after his release and was killed in a raid by Afghan security forces on Sept. 25, 2004, the Pentagon said. 

Abdul Rahman Noor was released in July 2003 and was later identified as the man described in an Oct. 7, 2001, interview with Al Jazeera television network as the "deputy defense minister of the Taliban," the Pentagon said. 

(Additional reporting by Kristin Roberts) 

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