— Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) February 24, 2016
Yesterday, President Obama sent Congress an incomplete plan to close Guantanamo and transfer prisoners to an unspecified location in the United States. This proposal is troubling for a number of reasons, but a timely news story lost in the shuffle raises another key national security concern.
Just as the president began speaking yesterday, news broke that a former Guantanamo prisoner was one of four terror suspects arrested by Spanish and Moroccan police. Authorities concluded that these men were part of an ISIS-affiliated cell plotting terrorist attacks across Spain. The unnamed man, who according to Spanish authorities was detained in Guantanamo in 2002 and returned to Spain in 2004, was described as “a leader who was trained in handling weapons, explosives and in military tactics.”
This news follows a report from last week that Ibrahim al Qosi, another former Guantanamo detainee freed in 2012, has returned to the upper ranks of Al Qaeda leadership. Qosi, a longtime Taliban and Al Qaeda operative, was recently featured in several extensive videos calling for jihad against the Saudi Kingdom and the West.
And late last year, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) reported that 30 percent of former Guantanamo prisoners are confirmed or suspected of reengaging in terrorism.
This underscores why the administration’s proposal to release dozens of Guantanamo prisoners—and bring the most dangerous ones to American soil—is so disturbing. These detainees were brought to Guantanamo for a reason. Many were directly involved in plotting or executing deadly attacks against the United States and our allies.
The president had the past seven years to come up with an alternative plan for Guantanamo. Now he’s jeopardizing our national security in a last-ditch effort to salvage another political legacy item. We’re not willing to take that risk.