The State Department on Thursday designated a former Guantánamo detainee as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist for his work with the Yemen-based Al-Qaida of the Arabian Peninsula.
The Bush administration repatriated Ibrahim al-Rubaysh, 36, to his native Saudi Arabia in December 2006 — a period when the White House was conducting large-scale transfers of a dozen or more war-on-terror prisoners to a Saudi rehabilitation program.
Earlier this year, the State Department offered a $5 million Reward for Justice for information leading to Rubaysh’s whereabouts.
A State Department statement Thursday described Rubaysh as a “senior advisor” of “operational planning” for the organization known as AQAP. Rubaysh sometimes functions as a spokesman for the al-Qaida franchise that emerged in the aftermath of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan and collapse of the group there founded by Osama bin Laden, who had Yemeni ancestry.
Rubaysh “provides the justification for attacks conducted by AQAP,” the State Department statement said. “In addition, he has made public statements, including one in August 2014 where he called on Muslims to wage war against the United States.”
The new “Specially Designated Global Terrorist” designation prohibits Americans from “engaging in transactions with” Rubaysh and means the U.S. can freeze any “property and interests” he may have in the United States.
Another division of the State Department is tasked with negotiating resettlement and repatriation agreements for dozens of the last 136 detainees at Guantánamo. Dozens of them are Yemenis, and the U.S. is seeking deals with more stable nations, including some in South America, to take them in rather than risk their being drawn to AQAP.
A leaked 2005 risk assessment written at the detention center in southeast Cuba called Rubaysh a medium threat to the United States and its allies and of medium intelligence value to the war-on-terror effort. It recommended against releasing him. It was signed by the prison camps commander at the time, Army Maj. Gen. Jay Hood.
Follow @CarolRosenberg on Twitter