By Jamie Crawford
Some former inmates at the United States prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, are still returning to the battlefield, a report from the U.S. intelligence community says.
Of the 603 detainees who have been transferred from the facility since it opened, 100 of them, or 16.6%, have re-engaged in terrorist activity, says an unclassified summary from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released last week.
Three detainees of 71 who were released since January 2009 have gone back to battle, and four others who were transferred from the facility since then are suspected of returning to their old ways.
"Based on trends identified during the past ten years, we assess that if additional detainees are transferred without conditions from GITMO, some will reengage in terrorist or insurgent activities," the report said. "Transfers to countries with ongoing conflicts and internal stability as well as active recruitment by insurgent and terrorist organizations pose a particular problem."
The report also said that some former detainees "routinely" communicate with one another, or with families of former detainees and previous associates who are members of terrorist organizations. Those communications range from "mundane" reflections of shared experiences to "nefarious" discussions about planning terrorist operations, the report said.
This year, President Obama reopened an office at the State Department tasked with focusing on how to close the Guantanamo Bay facility, and he appointed envoys from the State and Defense departments to make sure the detainees are transferred to other countries.
The precarious security environment in Yemen, where many of the current detainees are from, makes any direct transfer back to that country a challenge.
Upon taking office in 2009, Obama signed an executive order calling for the closure of the facility by January 2010. But conditions placed by Congress on any transfers into the U.S. prison system made any closure in the near term unlikely.
At its peak, the detention center held more than 750 men. There are now 164 detainees at the facility, which costs the U.S. Defense Department around $150 million a year to run. At least seven detainees have died in custody.
The report from the intelligence community, which is mandated by Congress, is released every six months.