MIAMI -- The Guantanamo parole board on Monday said it had cleared a Yemeni captive for release to resettlement outside his homeland, reaching a milestone:
Now, 33 of the last 76 captives at the U.S. Navy base in Cuba can go to nations providing security assurances that satisfy Secretary of Defense Ash Carter. Ten captives are charged with war crimes. So half of those long-held, uncharged detainees are now approved to go.
The figure could rise. Seventeen captives not currently facing charges await their parole board hearings, or decisions from them.
Musab Omar Ali al Madhwani, 36, "never held extremist views or any desire to harm Americans," his U.S. military advocate told the Periodic Review Board on June 28. "I am confident Musab is honest in his intentions after Guantanamo" to pursue a career as an accountant, marry and have children.
Pakistani security forces captured him on Sept. 11, 2002, in a day of raids in Karachi, according to his 2008 prison profile, parts of which an updated assessment discredited. He arrived at Guantanamo on Oct. 28, 2002, after 30 or more days in CIA custody, according to a portion of the so-called Senate Torture Report on the spy agency's secret prison network.
At Guantanamo, U.S. military intelligence dubbed him a member of the "Karachi Six," calling him part of a six-member "al-Qaida operational cell intended to support a future attack" in the Pakistani port city, the country's largest and most populous.
The decision released Monday by the board, however, noted that by March he had been "reassessed to be that of a low-level fighter" who was probably trying to get home to Yemen when he was arrested. The board said he should be resettled in a third country with "reintegration support" and security assurances.
He wants to get married; his no-charge American lawyers vow to attend the wedding.
His lawyer, Patricia Bronte, told the board that her client had grown at Guantanamo into someone she would welcome into her family home. She and two other no-charge defense lawyers who had represented him vowed to attend his wedding "regardless of where it takes place," she said.
"Musab is no longer the shy, gullible youth whom two men convinced to run away from home and go to Afghanistan," she said. Once, she added, he was "afraid of being alone in the dark." Now, "he reaches out to calm his brothers' fears and resolve their disputes."
Madhwani was one of two Yemeni clients for whom Bronte bought socks and shoes last year after she noticed the men's footwear looked scruffy. She said she didn't mind the expense, but was disturbed by what appeared to be prison camp cost-cutting. The spokesman at the time called reports of shortages at the Most Expensive Prison on Earth "baseless."