The Obama administration ignored the plea of President-elect Donald Trump to stop transferring prisoners out of the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, facility and sent four more detainees to Saudi Arabia.
The four transfers reduced the detainee population at "Gitmo" to 55. The Obama administration reportedly has plans to transfer another 15 detainees before Trump takes office on Jan. 20, which would bring the Guantanamo population down to 40 but still leave President Barack Obama's pledge to close the facility unfulfilled.
The transfers came two days after Trump said they should be stopped. In a Tweet, Trump said "There should be no further releases from Gitmo. These are extremely dangerous people and should not be allowed back onto the battlefield."
During the campaign, Trump pledged to keep Guantanamo open and said he would fill it with more suspected terrorists. "We're gonna' load it up with some bad dudes, believe me, we're gonna' load it up," he said last February.
The Guantanamo facility was opened following the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks for suspected "enemy combatants" and at one point held more than 700 detainees. The majority was transferred out or released under the administration of former President George W. Bush and 242 remained when Obama took office in 2009.
Obama's efforts to close Guantanamo were blocked by congressional Republicans who passed laws barring any transfers to prisons in the U.S.
In a statement on the latest four transfers, the Defense Department said, "The United States is grateful to the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for its humanitarian gesture and willingness to support ongoing U.S. efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.
"The United States coordinated with the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to ensure these transfers took place consistent with appropriate security and humane treatment measures," the statement said.
The Pentagon identified the four transferred detainees as Salem Ahmad Hadi Bin Kanad, Muhammed Rajab Sadiq Abu Ghanim, Abdallah Yahya Yusif Al-Shibli, and Muhammad Ali Abdallah Muhammad Bwazir, but did not give their nationalities.
The Saudi Press Agency said late Thursday that the four were Yemeni and they had already arrived in the Kingdom.
The former detainees will be reunited with their families and then subjected to counseling and rehabilitation programs at Prince Muhammad Center for Counseling and Care in accordance with pertinent regulations, the Saudi Press Agency said.
-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.