The Pentagon on Wednesday announced that two Guantanamo Bay inmates with Al Qaeda ties are being sent to Ghana, the first in a wave of 17 detainees expected to be transferred from the prison camp.
Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih Al-Dhuby will be transferred from Guantanamo to the custody of the government of Ghana.
Bin Atef is an admitted member of the Taliban and fought for Usama bin Laden, while Al-Dhuby trained with Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.
The two inmates are the first of a group of 17 detainees expected to be transferred out of Guantanamo Bay that includes “multiple bad guys” and “Al Qaeda followers,” a source who has reviewed the list told Fox News.
With the announcement of the transfer, 105 detainees remain there.
Both detainees spent close to 14 years at Guantanamo
The Pentagon had earlier determined that bin Atef was a high risk to the U.S. and to American interests, while Al-Dhuby posed a medium risk.
The foreign ministry for the West African nation said in a statement Wednesday the two “have been cleared of any involvement in any terrorist activities” but are unable to return to Yemen.
The ministry added that they will be able to leave the country after two years.
While the identities of all those scheduled for transfer are closely held, the source who spoke with Fox News said it includes “multiple bad guys … not taxi drivers and cooks.”
This is a reference to the administration’s transfer of Ibrahim al Qosi to Sudan in 2012. Despite entering a “re-integration program,” the one-time cook for Usama bin Laden has now fled to Yemen, where he is among the leadership of Al Qaeda in Yemen. That transfer is now said to be a source of considerable heartburn for the Obama administration.
As for those on the docket for immediate transfer, the source told Fox News the administration will not identify the detainees until they are relocated in their new home countries — because knowing who they are in advance would create further roadblocks and increase the controversy.
Multiple countries have agreed to take the men, in small groups, and the source said some of the countries were so-called first timers — a reference to the fact those countries had not taken Guantanamo detainees in the past.
Ghana’s foreign ministry said that all those being allowed into the country will have their activities monitored.
“We are aware of the need to protect the security and safety of our own residents and are taking all the necessary steps to make sure that is done,” it said.
Ghana’s foreign ministry said it is taking these actions in recognition of its responsibility as a member of the international community.