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11 former Gitmo inmates on Saudi wanted list

February 04, 2009

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CAIRO Saudi Arabia revealed on Wednesday that 11 of the Saudis on its new most wanted list had been released from the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, casting doubt on the kingdom`s much vaunted rehabilitation program for militants.

The news comes as President Barack Obama signed an executive order closing down the prison, leaving nations scrabbling over what to do with a potential flood of released detainees.

Saudi Arabia issued on Monday a wanted list of 83 Saudis and two Yemenis living outside of the country involved with al-Qaida and requested Interpol`s help in arresting them.

Some 133 of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay`s over 700 inmates were Saudi, according to Interior Ministry spokesman Gen. Mansour al-Turki, and 117 have returned to Saudi Arabia and been through rehabilitation programs.

`Besides the 11 people (on the list) who came from Guantanamo, there are still 106 people who have gone through this rehabilitation program and are doing okay,` he told the Associated Press.

With with a majority of the 9/11 hijackers from Saudi Arabia and hundreds of youths streaming into Iraq to join the insurgents, there has been a concerted government effort to counter extremist religious ideology with deprogramming sessions involving clerics, psychologists and sociologists.

It is in large part due to Saudi government assurances of the effectiveness of these programs that most Saudis have been released from Guantanamo. Only 13 remain in the facility, according to al-Turki.

The Pentagon issued a report on Jan. 13, however, saying that increasing numbers of those released have rejoined militant organizations and carried out attack. Figures from December indicated that 61 of the former detainees had rejoined these movements, up from 37 in March.

Obama`s Jan. 21 decision to close down the prison has unleashed a debate in the US about what to do with the remaining 245 inmates      A narrow majority of Americans supports shutting down Guantanamo Bay on a priority basis. But people are likely to become much less sympathetic to detainee rights if there is another terrorism attack inside the United States or if the new system is portrayed as too lenient on suspected al-Qaida members.

The European Parliament said Wednesday EU nations should help the administration of President Barack Obama and accept inmates from the US prison camp at Guantanamo Bay.