[JURIST] US Defense Secretary Robert Gates [official profile] said Thursday that a number of current Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainees would pose a new threat to the US if they were returned to their home countries. Of the 500 inmates who have been released from the detention facility, Gates said Pentagon data shows that between 5-10% of detainees "return to the battlefield" after being released.
Gates, who has been a proponent of closing the base [JURIST report], added:
I think we do as careful a vetting job as we possibly can before releasing these people. There are a lot of -- there are a lot of prisoners down there, frankly, that we would be prepared to turn over to their home government, but the home government isn't prepared to receive them, or we don't have any confidence that if they still need to be incarcerated, that the home government will keep them incarcerated. So there are actually a fair number of the prisoners at Guantanamo that we would be prepared to send home if we had -- if their government would accept them and -- or if we had confidence that the government would continue to keep them incarcerated.Gates' comments came in response to earlier reports that one former detainee, Abdullah Saleh al-Ajmi, was responsible for an April suicide attack [JURIST report] targeted at security forces in Mosul, Iraq. Al-Ajmi had been captured in Afghanistan in 2002, but was released to the custody of his home country, Kuwait, in May 2006. Upon his return, a Kuwaiti court acquitted [JURIST report] and freed al-Ajmi and four other former detainees accused of being al Qaeda members or of raising money for the terrorist group. Reuters has more. AP has additional coverage.