Freed Gitmo Detainees Behind Christmas Plane Bombing Attempt
December 29, 2009
(ChattahBox) — Further investigation of the Al-Qaida cell that took responsibility for the attack on the Northwest Flight 253, bound for Detroit on Christmas Day, finds that two of the masterminds behind the bomb plot were former Guantanamo Bay detainees, according to officials and Defense Department documents. A statement yesterday from Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula claimed responsibility for the plot, claiming it was in retaliation for a U.S. operation against the group in Yemen and praised attempted bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab as a “hero” and “martyr.”
Guantanamo prisoner No. 333, Muhamad Attik al-Harbi, who now calls himself Muhamad al-Awfi, and prisoner No. 372, Said Ali Shari were captured in Afghanistan in late 2001. They were sent in 2007 to Saudi Arabia where they entered into an “art therapy rehabilitation program” and were released, reports ABC News. Both Saudi nationals have since migrated and emerged in al Qaeda leadership roles in Yemen, and appear in propaganda videos filmed in 2009. al Shihri suspected in the murder of 6 Christian missionaries in Yemen, might have been killed in the latest of two recent attacks on al Qaeda strongholds that supposedly motivated the attempted plane bombing. U.S. diplomat said Saudi Arabia’s “so-called rehabilitation programs are a joke,” and ABC News notes that a similar repatriation program in Yemen was abandoned after authorities concluded participants were funneling straight back into terrorism. Both the families of al-Awfi and Shari attribute their radicalization to their years in detention at Guantanamo Bay.