A Guantanamo Bay prisoner has been transferred to his homeland of Yemen, the U.S. Defense Department announced on Tuesday, after a U.S. district court ordered the longtime detainee's release.
The release of 26-year-old Mohammed Odaini after eight years at Guantanamo Bay was an exception to the Obama administration's freeze on prisoner transfers to the turbulent country after the failed attempt to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day. Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula has claimed responsibility for the failed attempt.
"The suspension of Yemeni repatriations from Guantanamo remains in effect due to the security situation that exists there. However, the administration respects the decisions of U.S. federal courts," the Pentagon said in a statement.
Yemen, a poor country with a weak central government on the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula, has struggled to confront a growing al-Qaida presence.
American worries about Yemen's ability to fight al-Qaida heightened last year after several Yemeni detainees who had been released from Guantanamo Bay in Cuba resurfaced as leaders of an al-Qaida offshoot. Those concerns deepened in the wake of the failed Christmas attack.