Wire: 2 Former Guantanamo Detainees Appear in New al-Qaida Video
News in Balance:
WASHINGTON, Jan. 24, 2009 -- French based news service AFP reported Saturday that two men released from the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have appeared in a video posted on a jihadist Web site, according to the the Search for International Terrorist Entities (SITE) Intelligence Group monitoring service.
One of the two former detainees, a Saudi man identified as Abu Sufyan al-Azdi al-Shahri, or detainee number 372, has been elevated to the senior ranks of al-Qaida in Yemen, a U.S. counter-terrorism official told AFP.
Three other men appear in the video, including Abu al-Hareth Muhammad al-Oufi, identified as an al-Qaida field commander. SITE said he was detainee No. 333.
According to the AFP article Pentagon spokesman Jeffrey Gordon on Saturday declined to confirm the SITE information.
"We remain concerned about ex-Guantanamo detainees who have re-affiliated with terrorist organizations after their departure," said Gordon.On the video, al-Shihri is seen sitting with three other men before a flag of the Islamic State of Iraq, the front for al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI).
"We will continue to work with the international community to mitigate the threat they pose," he said.
"By Allah, imprisonment only increased our persistence in our principles for which we went out, did jihad for, and were imprisoned for," al-Shihri was quoted as saying.
Al-Shiri was transferred from Guantanamo to Saudi Arabia in 2007, a U.S. counter-terrorism official said.
The other men in the video are identified as Commander Abu Baseer al-Wahayshi and Abu Hureira Qasm al-Rimi (also known as Abu Hureira al-Sana'ani).
The U.S. Defense Department has said as many as 61 former Guantanamo detainees are believed to have returned to the fight.
The latest case highlights the risk the new Obama administration faces as it moves to close the detention facility at Guantanamo within a year.
(Report from an AFP article and other sources.)
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