An Afghan family in the eastern province of Khost says they’re excited their son is among 15 prisoners released from Guantánamo Bay detention center and transferred to the United Arab Emirates this week.
Obaidullah, who like many Afghans uses only one name, is now “free,” after 14 years in the U.S. prison in Cuba and that they can hardly wait to hear from him, family members told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
Fazel Karim, Obaidullah’s brother, said the family is hoping to visit him in the UAE. Karim said they first heard from Obaidullah a month ago that he would be “released.”
“We couldn’t travel to Cuba to visit Obaidullah in Guantánamo,” said Karim, “but I am so much hopeful that I can see him face to face in the United Arab Emirates.”
Karim said that his brother’s defense lawyer has told him that Obaidullah would be first transferred to a third country for six months to one year and that later, he would be completely free. However, that is unclear. It’s not known what became of Guantánamo prisoners the UAE previously took in, though it’s widely believed they undergo some sort of government-monitored rehabilitation.
Obaidullah was 19 years old when he was arrested by U.S. forces, with a son who was only two days old. “Now, his son is 14 years old and he is a teenage boy,” Karim added.
The Pentagon announced on Monday that the detainees — 12 Yemeni nationals and three Afghans — were sent to the UAE.
Guantánamo prison now has 61 detainees. It was opened in January 2002 to hold foreign fighters suspected of links to the Taliban or the al-Qaida terrorist organization. During the Bush administration, 532 prisoners were released from Guantánamo, often in large groups to Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia.