He will have spent twenty years of his life in the oppressive prison world of Guantanamo. Mohammed Al-Qahtani, a Saudi detainee from the US military prison on the island of Cuba, suspected of having attempted to participate in the September 11 attacks, has been repatriated to Saudi Arabia, announced on Monday March 7 , the US Department of Defense.
“On February 4, 2022, the Minister of Defense [Lloyd] Austin has notified Congress of his intention to repatriate Mohammed Al-Qahtani to Saudi Arabia. Together with our Saudi partners, we have fulfilled the conditions required for a secure transfer”a statement said.
“The United States appreciates the willingness of Saudi Arabia and other partners to support continued American efforts to reduce through a precise and deliberate process the prison population and ultimately close the Guantanamo prison.”continued the US Department of Defense.
“Very poor mental health”
Mohammed Al-Qahtani had been accused of being the twentieth hijacker who should have participated in the attacks of September 11, 2001. Captured in Afghanistan in December 2001, he had been one of the first prisoners transferred to Guantanamo in January 2002 .
The Guantanamo Board of Review had determined in June 2021 that his detention was not “no longer necessary” to protect the security of the United States from “serious threat”, recalls the press release. In particular, the committee took into account “the prisoner’s very poor mental health”the “family support he could have”and the “quality” care he would receive in his country.
The tortures that were imposed on Mohammed Al-Qahtani have been widely documented. In particular, he was subjected to a prolonged solitary confinement regime, sleep deprivation or humiliation linked to his religion.
In all, 38 detainees remain at Guantanamo, including 19 eligible for transfer, seven eligible for review by the Review Board and ten others, including the alleged mastermind of the 2001 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, says « KSM »are awaiting trial by a military commission.