Two ex-Guantanamo inmates appear in Al-Qaeda video
WASHINGTON (AFP) — Two men released from the US "war on terror" prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba have appeared in a video posted on a jihadist website, the SITE monitoring service reported.
One of the two former inmates, a Saudi man identified as Abu Sufyan al-Azdi al-Shahri, or prisoner number 372, has been elevated to the senior ranks of Al-Qaeda in Yemen, a US counter-terrorism official told AFP.
Three other men appear in the video, including Abu al-Hareth Muhammad al-Oufi, identified as an Al-Qaeda field commander. SITE later said he was prisoner No. 333.
A Pentagon spokesman, Commander Jeffrey Gordon, on Saturday declined to confirm the SITE information.
"We remain concerned about ex-Guantanamo detainees who have re-affiliated with terrorist organizations after their departure," said Gordon.
"We will continue to work with the international community to mitigate the threat they pose," he said.
On the video, al-Shihri is seen sitting with three other men before a flag of the Islamic State of Iraq, the front for Al-Qaeda in Iraq.
"By Allah, imprisonment only increased our persistence in our principles for which we went out, did jihad for, and were imprisoned for," al-Shihri was quoted as saying.
Al-Shiri was transferred from Guantanamo to Saudi Arabia in 2007, the US counter-terrorism official said.
The other men in the video are identified as Commander Abu Baseer al-Wahayshi and Abu Hureira Qasm al-Rimi (also known as Abu Hureira al-Sana'ani).
The Defense Department has said as many as 61 former Guantanamo detainees -- about 11 percent of 520 detainees transferred from the detention center and released -- are believed to have returned to the fight.
The latest case highlights the risk the new US administration faces as it moves to empty Guantanamo of its remaining 245 prisoners and close the controversial detention camp within a year.