Outgoing President Barack Obama has transferred 10 prisoners from the U.S. military detention center in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba to Oman on his way out of the White House.
As of 10:30 AM Monday, the Pentagon had not announced the transfers as it has consistently done in the past. The identities and nationalities of the prisoners remained unknown at the time.
Nevertheless, the government of Oman announced it has received the 10 jihadists, saying in a statement it responded to a request from the Obama administration and acted “out of consideration for the men’s humanitarian situation.”
“At the request of Sultan Qaboos and the US government for a solution to the question of Guantánamo detainees, 10 of these detainees arrived today in the sultanate to reside here temporarily,” the state-controlled Oman News Agency (ONA) quotes the ministry as saying.
Oman, which sits on the eastern edge of the Arabian peninsula and is bordered by Saudi Arabia and war-ravaged Yemen, has been ruled ruled by Sultan Qaboos bin Said since 1970.
Obama’s recent move reduced the Gitmo prison population down to 45, compared to 242 who were still held at the facility at the start of his presidency.
January 5, the U.S. announced the transfer of four Yemeni prisoners to Saudi Arabia.
Obama vowed to shut down Gitmo during his election campaign in 2008, but met bipartisan resistance in Congress.
The White House conceded on January 5 that Obama would likely release more prisoners from Guantánamo before incoming commander-in-chief Donald Trump takes over on January 20.
Various news outlets have reported that Obama is expected to reduce the Gitmo population to nearly 40 before he leaves office.
Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, told reporters on January 5:
I am not able to speak to any specific detainee transfers between now and January 20th other than to confirm for you that there are likely to be some. And whenever those transfers take place, once they have been completed, we announce them publicly. And that will continue to be our approach through January 20th. And my expectation is that there will be some additional announcements of that type.
However, neither the Pentagon nor the White House has yet to announce the recent transfers to Oman.
The Daily Mail reported earlier this month that President Obama plans to release Gitmo jihadists who have threatened to behead and bomb Americans.
“President Obama is planning to transfer at least 22 additional Guantanamo Bay detainees out of the military detention center before he leaves office later this month, DailyMail.com has learned,” noted the news outlet.
“The group being released will be drawn from those held at Guantanamo – who include an accused senior al Qaeda bomb-maker, the terror group’s top financial manager, and two intended 9/11 hijackers, who have all been held in the Cuba-based U.S. detention facility for more than a decade,” it added.