Former Gitmo Detainee Emerges as Al Qaeda Leader | NBC New York

Former Gitmo Detainee Emerges as Al Qaeda Leader



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    Closing Guantanamo Bay just got a little more difficult.

    A former prisoner at Guantanamo Bay who was released in 2007 has resurfaced as an Al Qaeda leader in Yemen. His re-emergence adds a complicated twist to the executive order, signed Wednesday by President Obama, closing the controversial prison.

    The militant, Said Ali al-Shihri, who uses the alias Abu Sayyaf, is named as the deputy leader of Al Qaeda in Yemen in an Internet report released by the group. An American counter terrorism official confirmed his identity to the New York Times.

    "They're one and the same guy," said the official who insisted on anonymity because he was discussing an intelligence analysis. "He returned to Saudi Arabia in 2007, but his movements to Yemen remain unclear."

    Al-Shihri is suspected in the September bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Sana, Yemen. That attack left 16 people dead.

    Close to 50 percent of the remaining Guantanamo inmates are Yemeni. Despite efforts to stem terrorism groups from growing there, Yemen remains a hotbed of Al Qaeda activity.