WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Kuwaiti man with links to al Qaeda will remain at the Guantanamo Bay prison, while a second is cleared for transfer home, a U.S. national security panel said on Friday.
Faez Mohammed Ahmed al-Kandari, who has been held at the U.S. prison in Cuba without charge since 2002, is a security threat because he is susceptible to recruitment by extremists, the Periodic Review Board said.
Al-Kandari “almost certainly retains an extremist mindset and had close ties with high-level al Qaeda leaders in the past,” the review board said in a ruling posted on a Defense Department website.
A Pentagon profile ahead of his board hearing in June said al-Kandari had served as an al Qaeda recruiter. He likely was a confidante and spiritual adviser to Osama bin Laden, the al Qaeda leader killed by U.S. forces in 2011, it said.
At the time of the June hearing, the Pentagon gave al-Kandari’s age as 36 or 37.
The Periodic Review Board cleared the transfer home of the second Kuwaiti, Fouzi Khalid Abdullah al-Awda, 37, who has also been held at Guantanamo without charge since 2002.
The panel said he had had a low level of training and had not been an al Qaeda leader. Al-Awda also has extensive family support and has committed himself to take part in Kuwait’s prisoner rehabilitation program, it said.
The Periodic Review Board was established to speed up Guantanamo’s closing as ordered by President Barack Obama. The prison holds 149 prisoners.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel must inform Congress of U.S. intent to transfer al-Awda to Kuwaiti authorities.
With the latest rulings, the panel has recommended that four prisoners be transferred and that three remain in prison. Decisions for two inmates are pending.
Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Leslie Adler