The last Kuwaiti held at Guantanamo, Faiz Mohammed Ahmed al-Kandari, has been repatriated to his home country, the US Department of Defense (DOD) announced [press release] Friday. The Periodic Review Board (PRB) [official website] determined in September that “continued law of war detention of Al-Kandari does not remain necessary to protect against a continuing significant threat to the security of the United States.” Al-Kandari was captured by unnamed Afghans and arrived at Guantanamo in May 2002 after being accused [Stars and Stripes report] of serving as Osama Bin Laden’s “advisor and confidant.” Kuwaiti authorities said the release showed progress[Kuwait Times report] in bilateral relations between the government of Kuwait and the US. The release of all 12 Kuwaiti detainees followed [CBS/AP report] from strong efforts by Kuwait and high-profile Washington lawyers to secure their freedom. Al-Kandari is the third detainee to be resettled [JURIST report] this week, and 104 detainees remain at the detention center.
The Obama administration has promised to close Guantanamo but has struggled due to Congressional opposition to relocating detainees to the US, as well as slowing the process of transferring prisoners to other countries. In November the US Senate passed [JURIST report] the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 (NDAA) [text, PDF], which prohibits Guantanamo detainees from being transferred into the US. President Barack Obama signed the bill into law, despite the fact that it will delay his plan to close the prison. The NDAA comes after the Department of Defense said [JURIST report] they were sending teams to review three Colorado prisons as part of Obama’s efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay prison in October. The Guantanamo Review Task Force (GRTF) was created in response to a 2009 presidential executive order [text, PDF] to review the status of all detainees. In September White House Spokesperson Josh Earnest said President Barack Obama was considering a “wide array” of options [JURIST report] for closing the prison.