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The commander of the USS Cole blasted the release of high risk Guantanamo Bay detainees to Saudi Arabia.
The man in charge of the U.S. Navy guided missile destroyer, Kirk Lippold, said last month’s release of a Gitmo detainee who was linked to Al Qaeda was a denial of justice to those killed in the attack on the ship in 2000, Fox News reported.
Lippold was at the helm of the USS Cole when it was attacked by an Al Qaeda cell of suicide bombers on a small fishing boat who blew a hole in the side of the ship, killing 17 people. Another 37 people were injured in the attack on the ship in October 2000 as it refueled in the port of Aden in Yemen.
Mashur Abdallah Ahmed al Sabri, a 38-year-old citizen of Yemen who was born in Saudi Arabia, was thought to be part of the cell behind the attack but his role was downplayed before being released last month.
“I would have liked to have seen him receive a military commission where he was tried, convicted and sentenced and then his suitability for release determined under the laws of armed conflict,” Lippold told Fox.
“From the perspective of the American people and my crew, he’s never been held accountable,” he said.
Al Sabri was assessed as “high risk” and “likely to pose a threat to the U.S., its interests and allies,” according to a September 2008 report by the Department of Defense. “Detainee was a member of a Yememi Al Qaeda cell which was directly involved with the USS COLE attack. Detainee attended advanced training in Afghanistan after recruitment by a known Al Qaeda facilitator.”
In a report in 2014, however, the language had softened, concluding that al Sabri “probably did not play a significant role in terrorist operations,” according to Fox.
Al Sabri was transferred to a Saudi rehabilitation program on April 16, following other transferred detainees under President Obama’s ongoing push to close the military prison to make good on a campaign promise.
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Video from Fox News.