The Biden government has approved three detainees in Guantánamo Bay for release to countries that have agreed to impose security conditions on them, including the oldest of the remaining prisoners of war, lawyers and government officials in the United States, said Monday.
The permits increased the number of 40 prisoners currently in war prison who were approved for transfer to other countries to nine. However, it is unclear where the three men will go or when, in part because the State Department will have to make diplomatic and security agreements with countries to accommodate them.
Some of the other detainees who have been released for release over the years have waited a decade for another country to agree to accept them. In some cases, countries are asked to continue detaining detainees or bring them to justice. In most cases, they will be asked to prevent them from traveling abroad for at least two years.
Among those granted permission is Saifullah Paracha, 73, from Pakistan, who was captured in Thailand in 2003. Not only is he the oldest of the inmates, but he has also been referred to as one of the sick with heart disease and diabetes, and high blood pressure.
The other two were Abdul Rabbani, 54, also a Pakistani citizen, and Uthman Abdul al-Rahim Uthman, 40, a Yemeni. None of them have been charged with any crime by the United States in the two decades they have been in custody.
Of the other detainees who remained, 12 were charged with war crimes, one was convicted, and 19 are considered too dangerous to be transferred to another country’s custody.
The news that the men had been allowed to be released originally came from their attorneys, who heard about it from prisoners in phone calls between attorney and client. Two government officials upheld the three dismissal decisions, but on the condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to discuss them.
The decision to approve the three releases was made early last week by the attorney general, the director of the national intelligence service, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and the secretaries of defense, homeland security and state. All of them have representatives who sit on the Periodic Review Board, the organization that assesses the threat posed by the detainees.
Mr. Rabbani was captured during a 2002 security police raid in Karachi, Pakistan, with his brother, who is also held as a prisoner of war in Guantánamo Bay. Both Rabbani brothers were trained by the C.I.A. before her transfer to US military custody.
Mr. Uthman was held the longest of the three. He was brought to Guantánamo as a suspected member of Osama bin Laden’s bodyguard corps within days of the opening of Camp X-Ray in January 2002. He was declined for publication in 2018 In part because he “lacked credible plans to support himself during the transfer” and had not said how his family could support him.
Despite pledges to renew efforts by the Obama administration to end detention operations at the naval base in Cuba, the Biden administration has yet to restart renditions.
On Tuesday, the American Civil Liberties Union asked the White House to appoint a senior US official to negotiate transfer agreements with other countries. “It is encouraging that long overdue rendition or release decisions for Guantánamo prisoners who have been detained indefinitely are finally beginning,” said Hina Shamsi, director of the A.C.L.U. “But implementation is also key.”
The Trump administration closed the office of the Special Envoy for the Closure of Guantánamo and transferred only one prisoner, a seasoned Saudi terrorist who was repatriated in 2018 to serve his war crimes sentence in a former jihadist rehabilitation center.
The last known transfer of a detainee from Guantánamo to Pakistan in the US was in 2008. The US stopped repatriating Yemenis in 2010 because it feared that the Yemen government could not monitor the men and prevent them from coming back to join an Al Qaeda franchise there.
Mr. Paracha, a retired businessman and longtime legal resident of New York, was born during an F.B.I. In July 2003, he was lured from his home in Karachi, Pakistan, to Bangkok to speak to Kmart representatives about a fake merchandising deal. Instead, intelligence agents seized him, covered him up and handcuffed him, and flew him to Afghanistan.
He was viewed by US intelligence as a facilitator in helping the man accused of plotting the September 11, 2001 attacks, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, and Mohammed’s nephew, Ammar al-Baluchi, with financial transactions in Pakistan following the attacks. Both men are accused of conspiring in the September 11th attacks, a capital incident.
Mr Paracha admitted securing about $ 500,000 for her but said he was unaware of her identity or her ties to al-Qaeda. He claimed he helped them as he would any other Muslim.
At the time of Mr. Paracha’s capture, his eldest son, Uzair Paracha, was arrested in the United States on suspicion of supporting terrorism. Uzair Paracha was then tried, his conviction overturned, and returned to Pakistan last year under an agreement with prosecutors to drop the case if he gives up his permanent residency status in the United States.
Saifullah Paracha’s younger son, Mustafa Paracha, said in an interview last year that his father would like to spend time with his family after his return to Pakistan and that one of his primary concerns is to take care of his health needs. At the beginning of his detention, US military doctors flew a cardiac catheterization laboratory and surgical team to Guantánamo, but he refused to consent to the procedure because of concerns about the quality of medical care available there.
Typically the Secretariat for regular reviews, who manages the board, publishes the rationale for the release decisions on its website. The decisions usually contain a recommendation on a security guarantee as well as recommendations by the Board of Directors on the rehabilitation, repatriation or resettlement of the prisoner approved for transfer. But it hadn’t done that until Monday evening.