Two Pakistani brothers held by the United States government at the Guantanamo Bay military prison for nearly 20 years have been repatriated back to Pakistan, the U.S. Defense Department announced last week.
Accused of operating safe houses for Al-Qaida, Abdul, 55, and Mohammed Ahmed Rabbani, 53, were apprehended by Pakistani officers in Karachi in 2002 and handed over to U.S. authorities.
While the siblings were never charged with any crime, they were sent to the controversial detention camp on the coast of Guantánamo Bay in Cuba in 2004.
The brothers claimed that before being transferred to Guantanamo, they were tortured in CIA custody. Based on military records, the siblings provided little intelligence of value and recanted statements made during interrogations.
According to a statement from the Pentagon, the men’s detention was “no longer necessary to protect against a continuing significant threat to the security of the United States.”
Both men were approved for release in 2011, but for reasons unclear remained in detention.
A statement from the foreign ministry in Islamabad confirmed the brothers’ transfer home, revealing that the repatriates have been reunited with their families.
The transfer, which involved an inter-agency process, is part of the Biden administration’s efforts of “reducing the detainee population and ultimately closing the Guantanamo Bay facility,” according to the Pentagon.
The Pentagon’s statement also revealed that there are still 32 detainees remaining at Guantanamo Bay, 18 of whom are eligible for transfer to relevant “stable third-party countries” that would house them.
Majid Khan, another Pakistani detainee who confessed to being a former al-Qaida courier, completed his sentence and was resettled in Belize earlier this month.
Established by former president George W. Bush in 2002, the Guantanamo camp was built to detain foreign terrorism suspects believed to be involved in the 9/11 attacks. By 2003, around 600 prisoners considered terrorists were held at the site.