10 Yemeni detainees sent from Gitmo to Oman, in ‘troubling’ transfer

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The Obama administration on Thursday quietly transferred 10 Yemeni detainees from the prison at Guantanamo Bay to neighboring Oman – so quietly, in fact, that the news was first reported by state-run Middle East news agencies. And once the news got to Capitol Hill, it set off alarm bells given the host country’s proximity to Al Qaeda’s most active branch.

The transfer is the largest batch of detainees shipped out of the Cuba prison camp so far this year. It is part of a wave of transfers as the administration steps up efforts to shrink the prison population, with the ultimate goal of closing the facility despite congressional resistance.

Fox News reported earlier this week that the 10 detainees were slated for transfer, but the destination at the time was not known. The state-run Oman News Agency published a brief statement Thursday morning saying the detainees had arrived in Oman.

The Defense Department subsequently announced the transfer, and identified the detainees, late Thursday morning, saying the administration coordinated with Oman to ensure the move was conducted with “appropriate security and humane treatment measures.”

According to a statement, Defense Secretary Ash Carter notified Congress in advance. The Pentagon said the individuals “were unanimously approved for transfer by the six departments and agencies comprising the task force,” and said the government is “grateful” to Oman for its “humanitarian gesture and willingness to support ongoing U.S. efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.”

Ahead of the announcement, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., slammed the transfer as a “thinly veiled attempt to undercut the will of Congress and would further endanger the American people.”

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