After over 20 years, the US Department of Defense announced the repatriation of Algerian detainee Sufiyan Barhoumi from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay to his home country.
The release of Barhoumi, who was accused of training al-Qaeda terrorists, seeks to close the Guantanamo Bay facility.
The Pentagon said in a statement that on Feb. 4, 2022, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin notified Congress of his intent to repatriate Barhoumi to Algeria, and, in consultation with the Algerian partners, they completed the requirements for responsible transfers.
According to Agence France Presse (AFP), Austin praised the willingness of Algeria and "other partners" to support ongoing US efforts toward a deliberate and thorough process focused on responsibly reducing the detainee population and "ultimately closing of the Guantanamo Bay facility."
Barhoumi was initially accused in 2005 of participating in a terrorist plot and was charged with working as a trainer in an al-Qaeda camp, specializing as a bomb-making instructor.
But in early 2008, the Pentagon dropped the charges against him, and then in 2016, the Periodic Review Board process determined that the law of war detention of Barhoumi was "no longer necessary" to protect against a "continuing threat" to the US national security.
In all, 37 detainees are still held in Guantanamo after this deportation, which followed the return of Saudi detainee Mohammed al-Qahtani to his country also in early March.
Among the detainees, 18 are eligible for transfer, seven are suitable for a Periodic Review Board, and ten are involved in the military commissions' process, including the presumed mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
Independent experts commissioned by the UN urged the US government last January to close its military prison in Guantanamo for the "continuous violations of human rights."
The US government pledged to close the "notorious" detention center that was set up after the Sept. 11 attacks as part of the "war on terror."