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A Saudi man accused of involvement in the 9/11 attacks was released from the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba and sent back to his home country this week, the latest detainee to be released and repatriated from the US base, CNN reported.
Mohammed al-Qahtani was an al Qaeda operative who had planned to be the “20th hijacker” on Sept. 11, 2001 but failed to board the United Airlines Flight 93 that crashed in rural Pennsylvania.
His release comes a month after the US Periodic Review Board recommended al-Qahtani’s repatriation, saying he could safely be released from the detention center after spending 20 years in custody there, the New York Post noted.
It also follows a decision by the Biden administration to drop the legal fight initiated by former President Donald Trump, who contested the prisoner’s repatriation.
The former operative was captured near the Afghan border in December 2001 and later transferred to Guantanamo Bay in 2002, where he was imprisoned and tortured.
Al-Qahtani’s lawyers have said their client is severely mentally ill, suffering from schizophrenia, depression and post-traumatic stress stemming from his torture.
He will be flown to Saudi Arabia, where he will be placed in a mental health facility there.
His release marks the second repatriation of Guantanamo detainees and comes as the Biden administration is considering closing the controversial base.
There are currently 38 detainees left in Guantanamo Bay and half of them have been approved for repatriation or resettlement by the review board.