- The Washington Times - Monday, February 9, 2015

A drone strike in Afghanistan Monday has killed a former Guantanamo Bay detainee and recruiter for the Islamic State.

Mullah Abdul Rauf, a senior Islamic militant who was once held prisoner at a naval detention facility in Cuba, was killed in the Helmand Province Monday. Afghan officials have said that Rauf was in a moving vehicle, along with his brother-in-law and four Pakistanis, when the drone strike occurred.

Officials were not immediately able to confirm that Rauf was a member of the Islamic State, however, his traveling companions were dressed in black outfits similar to those worn by Islamic State militants, Reuters reported.

Afghan’s premier intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security, alleges that Rauf was in charge of the Islamic State in southwestern Afghanistan at the time of his death.

Rauf is described in Guantanamo Bay detainee assessment documents as a Taliban troop commander whose name was found “on a list of factions and leaders” representing the group’s operations in Afghanistan.

The commander was transferred to Afghanistan in 2007 after being captured in 2004 after it was determined that he had “medium intelligence value,” documents show.

The International Security Assistance Force, a coalition that oversees operations in the Middle East, did not immediately confirm whether it had killed Rauf in one of the drone strikes that it conducts in the region. Instead, coalition spokesman Army Lt. Col. Christopher Belcher said on Monday that international forces had killed in an airstrike in the Helmand Province “eight individuals threatening the force.”

The news that a former Guantanamo Bay detainee has returned to terrorist activity comes just as a top lawmaker on the Senate Armed Services Committee is pushing to keep detainees who pose a serious threat to the United States and its interests locked up at the detention facility.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte said in a Jan. 29 statement that the Obama administration’s push to release detainees in order to close Guantanamo Bay is a “misguided effort” that poses “serious risks.”

“With nearly 30 percent of former Guantanamo detainees suspected or confirmed of reengaging in terrorism, the administration’s continued policy of releasing dangerous terrorists endangers Americans and our allies,” the New Hampshire Republican and Senate Armed Services Committee member said in a Jan. 29 statement.

Ms. Ayotte has been gathering support for a bill that would place stiff restrictions on the U.S. government’s ability to release non-U.S. citizens from the detention facility as well as freeze construction and other modifications to the facility, unless authorized by Congress.

That bill, known as the Detaining Terrorists to Protect America Act of 2015, already has 25 co-sponsors and the support of Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain.

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