Congressman Bill Shuster today became an original cosponsor of the “Detainee Transfer and Release Security Act;” legislation that would strengthen our national security and help prevent terror detainees from rejoining terrorist groups upon their transfer from Guantanamo Bay to foreign governments.
“The botched Christmas Day bomb plot should have erased any lingering doubts about al-Qaeda’s ability to conduct terrorist operations abroad and against our homeland,” Shuster said. “The plot also uncovered just how far al-Qaeda has spread throughout the Arabian Peninsula and beyond as well as the need for our government to be proactive in confronting this continuing threat.”
The decision by the Obama Administration to suspend the transfer of detainees to Yemen, the nation where the Christmas Day bomb plot was concocted, directly points to the need to certify that any country receiving GITMO detainees can prove they are not state sponsors of terrorist and that they are serious about rooting out terrorist safe-havens in their territory.
“I am a proud cosponsor of the ‘Detainee Transfer and Release Security Act’ because it will force the President to certify that GITMO detainees will not be transferred to governments that turn a blind eye to terrorism,” Shuster said. “The bill is even stronger, requiring the Administration to keep tabs on detainees to prove that they have not returned to terrorism after they leave our custody.”
According to a recent Defense Intelligence Report obtained by CNN, the number of GITMO detainees returning to terrorism upon their release has increased. While the exact number is classified, a similar report from last spring estimated that 14 percent of detainees conducted, or were suspected of conducting terrorist activities after their release. That means, out of the 530 detainees released from GITMO between 2002 and 2009, 27 were confirmed to have returned to terrorism and 47 were suspected recidivists.
Specifically, the “Detainee Transfer and Release Security Act” would require the President to certify to Congress that:
- The county to which the individual is to be transferred or released is not a designated state sponsor of terrorism.
- A certification that such country’s government can secure and exercise control over all of its territory.
- A certification that no portion of such country’s territory serves as a safe haven for terrorist or insurgent group in the region, particularly al-Qaeda in which such a group may be able to plan, organize, and support terrorist operations.
- A certification that there is no confirmed case of any individual who had been detained at Guantanamo who reengaged in terrorist activities subsequent to being transferred or released to such country.