HAIDERKHAIL, Afghanistan (AP) - An Afghan family in the eastern province of Khost says they’re excited their son is among 15 prisoners released from Guantanamo Bay detention center and transferred to the United Arab Emirates this week.
Obiadullah, who like many Afghans uses only one name, is now “free,” after 14 years in the U.S. prison in Cuba and that they can hardly wait to hear from him, family members and relatives told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
Fazel Karim, Obiadullah’s brother, said the family was not able to travel to Guantanamo but is hoping to go to UAE and visit him. Karim said they first heard from Obiadullah a month ago and he told them he would be “released.”
“We couldn’t travel to Cuba to visit Obiadullah in Guantanamo, but I am so much hopeful that I can see him face to face in the United Arab Emirates,” said Karim.
Obiadullah was 19 years old when he was arrested by U.S. forces, with a son who was only two days old. “Now, his son is 14 years old and he is a teenage boy,” Karim added.
The Pentagon announced on Monday that the detainees - 12 Yemeni nationals and three Afghans - were sent to the UAE.
Guantanamo, where 61 detainees now, was opened in January 2002 to hold foreign fighters suspected of links to the Taliban or the al-Qaida terrorist organization. During the Bush administration, 532 prisoners were released from Guantanamo, often in large groups to Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia.
The latest batch of released prisoners had been held without charge at Guantanamo, some for over 14 years. They were cleared for release by the Periodic Review Board, comprised of representatives from six U.S. government agencies.
The UAE successfully resettled five detainees transferred there last year, according to the Pentagon. In July 2008, the seven-emirate nation also repatriated UAE citizen and Guantanamo prisoner Abdulah Alhamiri at the same time that Afghanistan and Qatar each accepted one prisoner a piece.
Karim said that his brother’s defense lawyer has told him that Obiadullah would be first transferred to a third country for six months to one year and that later, he would be completely free.
However, that is unclear. It’s not known what happened to prisoners the UAE previously took in, though it’s widely believed they undergo some sort of government-monitored rehabilitation.
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