the late Yousef Mohammed al Shihri
Thomas Joscelyn reports that another released Guantanamo prisoner who rejoined al Qaeda was this time permanently detained by Saudi security forces.
On Oct. 13, a former Guantanamo detainee named Yousef Mohammed al Shihri was killed in a shootout at a checkpoint along the Saudi-Yemeni border. Al Shihri and his accomplices were stopped by Saudi security forces after their suspicious behavior drew attention.
Two of the travelers, including al Shihri, were reportedly dressed as women. Saudi security personnel decided to search the al Qaeda car and its passengers, but al Shihri and the others opened fire. Al Shihri and one other al Qaeda member were killed in the shootout, while a third was arrested. One Saudi security officer was also killed. …
Yousef Mohammed al Shihri was repatriated to Saudi Arabia in November 2007 along with thirteen other Saudi citizens. At least several of them have returned to al Qaedaâ€™s ranks. One of those who rejoined al Qaeda is Said Ali al Shihri, who has become the deputy chief of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and was reportedly involved in the September 2008 attack on the US embassy in Sanaa, Yemen. According to memos prepared at Gitmo, Said Ali al Shihri is Yousef Mohammed al Shihriâ€™s brother. However, according to a report by Caryle Murphy in the Christian Science Monitor, Saudi authorities have said the two al Qaeda terrorists were brothers-in-law.
Regardless, Yousef and Said were relatives. And their stories demonstrate the pitfalls of the US governmentâ€™s transfer and release decisions. Prior to their transfers, US intelligence officials at Guantanamo had determined that Said was â€œa known al Qaeda operative.â€ Moreover, when they inquired about Yousef, they found that he was considered one of the more dangerous Saudis held at Guantanamo.
In a memo prepared at Guantanamo, US intelligence officials reported that:
A foreign government service provided information on detainees held at Guantanamo Bay that they designated as being high priority targets, in order of precedence. [Yousef Mohammed al Shihri] is number four on the list.
The “foreign government service” is likely Saudi intelligence, as that organization would have the most information on Yousef and his fellow Saudi al Qaeda compatriots. Well more than 100 Saudis were detained at Guantanamo, so Yousef must have been considered especially dangerous to be listed as number four on the list.
In addition, US intelligence officials alleged that Yousef Mohammed al Shihri made his allegiances and animosity for America well-known long before being transferred to Saudi Arabia. Regarding Yousef Mohammed al Shihri, memos prepared at Guantanamo alleged:
The detainee stated he considers all Americans his enemy. The detainee decided that he hates all Americans because they attack his religion, Islam. Since Americans are the detaineeâ€™s enemy, he will continue to fight them until he dies.
The detainee pointed to the sky and told the interviewing agents that he will have a meeting with them in the next life. â€¦
The detainee stated that the FBI, the United States and the interrogators are the enemy.
Despite all of this, Yousef and Said were transferred to Saudi custody. They both graduated from the Saudi jihadist rehabilitation program and then joined nine others in a planned escape from Saudi soil. They fled to Yemen, where they joined al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which is currently one of the strongest al Qaeda branches. Said lives on to fight another day, while Yousef now gets to test his theory of the afterlife.