ARLINGTON, Va. (Reuters) - A suspected al Qaeda recruiter held at the Guantanamo Bay military prison for 13 years faced a U.S. national security board on Monday to determine if he is eligible to be transferred.
Faez Mohammed Ahmed al Kandari, a 38-year-old Kuwaiti, is suspected of being an al Qaeda propagandist and may have served as “spiritual adviser” to slain al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, according to a U.S. Department of Defense profile.
The hearing came as President Barack Obama’s administration drafts a plan to close the prison at a naval base in Cuba. The proposal calls for transferring to U.S. prisons inmates who are deemed too dangerous to release. [ID:nnL1N1060IN]
The hearing before the parole-style Periodic Review Board was to weigh whether Kandari posed a threat to the United States. The Pentagon profile said Kandari had complied with officials at Guantanamo Bay since his last review in 2014, which was marked by an outburst by him during the hearing.
Twenty-five minutes of Monday’s hearing were shown on a closed-circuit television link from Guantanamo Bay to a viewing site near the Pentagon.
“For the first time since his detention began ... he’s excited about seeing his family again,” Kandari’s personal representative said.
According to Kandari’s lawyer, the release of his fellow Kuwaiti, Fawzi al Odah, last year was proof that Kuwait could handle Kandari’s release.
The lawyer said the Kandari had learned English and was studying business.
Kandari wore a white shirt and sat with his lawyer, military representative and other officials. The national security panel was not shown.
Eleven Guantanamo inmates have been transferred this year and 116 are still detained.
Reporting by Idrees Ali; Editing by Lisa Lambert