From NBC News:
By Amena Bakr, Reuters
DUBAI — The second-in-command of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) was killed in a U.S. drone attack in Yemen, the group confirmed on Wednesday.
Said al-Shehri was described by U.S. officials as one of the most important al Qaeda-linked militants to be released from the Guantanamo detention facility in Cuba, where he was taken in January 2002 after Pakistan handed him to U.S. authorities.
He went on to become AQAP’s second-in-command.
In January, Yemeni authorities said he had died after suffering from injuries in an operation by Yemeni security forces on November 28, 2012, in the northern province of Saada.
Senior AQAP official Ibrahim al Rubaish in a video statement posted online he had been killed in a drone attack, but did not say when, according to SITE, a U.S.-based monitoring website.
More at the link.
The obvious question is: why was such a dangerous man released from Guantanamo in the first place? Try as I might, I just cannot imagine President Roosevelt having authorized the release of a single German prisoner of war before World War II was over, not a soldier, not a clerk, and not a cook. It is such a simple concept: while you are at war, and you have an enemy combatant under your control, you do not set him free so that he can go back out onto the battlefield and shoot at your soldiers again. You just don’t do that.
Unfortunately, that very simple, and very obvious, concept seems to have eluded President Barack Hussein Obama, and, even sadder, President George Walker Bush as well. Mr al-Shihri was “repatriated” to his home country of Saudi Arabia in November 0f 2007, while President Bush was still in office:
On September 11, 2001, Said al-Shihri was at home in Saudi Arabia. A veteran jihadist with experience in Afghanistan and Chechnya, he traveled to Bahrain on September 23 before making his way to Afghanistan. Al-Shihri was captured in December 2001 and later sent to Guantanamo Bay.
Saudi intelligence agents, who were cooperating with the U.S. government at Guantanamo, put al-Shihri on a list of the 37 most dangerous prisoners, and the United States labeled him a “negative leader.” Still, on November 9, 2007, the United States sent him and 13 others back to Saudi Arabia. Once back in the kingdom, al-Shihri was required to take part in a rehabilitation program run by the Ministry of the Interior. Less than a year later, in September 2008, Saudi officials decided he no longer posed a threat and he was released. The 35-year-old al-Shihri was offered a wife and a job, but he declined.
Within weeks of his release, al-Shihri organized and led several former Guantanamo Bay detainees over the border to Yemen to rejoin al-Qa`ida. In January 2009, al-Shihri and Muhammad al-`Awfi, another former Guantanamo Bay detainee, appeared alongside Nasir al-Wahayshi and Qasim al-Raymi in a video announcing the formation of AQAP.
The good news is that Mr al-Shihri has gone to his eternal reward; the bad news is that it cost multiple millions of dollars to send him there, when we already had him in custody, and during his 4½ years of freedom, he organized another terrorist group which led to more suffering and more strife and more death. If we had used just a little bit of common sense, Mr al-Shihri would still be alive today . . . alive behind the barbed wire of the Guantanamo prison center.
There is a solution: we have said, more than once, that the detainees at Guantanamo should be declared prisoners of war. That means that they cannot be put on trial, but it also means that we can hold them, no questions asked, until the war against Islamism is over . . . which could be a very long time.
Instead, we have released many of the detainees, and many of them have returned right back to the battlefield, and started shooting at our soldiers and Marines again. The Commander-in-Chief of the United States armed services has the responsibility to see to it that our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines are not exposed to any more danger than absolutely necessary, and that means that the Commander-in-Chief should stop, right now, immediately, with the cockamamie policy of sending enemy soldiers back to the battlefield.