The United States has sent four prisoners from the country’s notorious prison facility at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba to Saudi Arabia.
The Pentagon announced the resettlements on Thursday. All of the four transferred were Yemenis, who had been imprisoned without trial for up to 15 years over suspected links to the al-Qaeda terrorist group, it said, adding that they had been cleared for transfer following an extensive security review.
Their resettlement brings the Guantanamo inmate population to 55, including 19 also cleared for transfer.
About 780 men have passed through the facility since it was opened following the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in the US to hold terrorism suspects.
Four coordinated attacks killed 2,996 people, injured over 6,000 others, and caused at least $10 billion in property and infrastructure damage in the US on the morning of September 11, 2001. Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Fifteen of the 19 plane hijackers involved in the attacks were Saudi nationals.
The four prisoners resettled on Thursday were sent to Saudi Arabia because they had demanded that they be sent to a country where they had family. The US had ruled out sending them back to Yemen, because the country is at war and there is an active al-Qaeda branch there.
But Saudi Arabia, too, is commonly suspected of being the major sponsor of extremist groups, such as al-Qaeda. While Western governments have been reluctant to admit the substantive Saudi role in terrorism worldwide, journalists, including from the US, have long been writing about the Saudi campaign to spread terror.
Osama bin Laden, the founder and the previous leader of al-Qaeda, was a Saudi.