WASHINGTON - The United States has sent 12 inmates from the American military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to Afghanistan, Yemen and an enclave in Somalia despite concerns about militant cells in those countries.
The U.S. Justice Department said yesterday six Yemeni and four Afghan detainees were moved over the weekend to their home countries while two Somalis were transferred to regional authorities in Somaliland, a self-governing region of Somalia.
The transfers are the latest from the controversial prison that President Barack Obama has pledged to close, though his deadline for doing so, Jan. 22, will likely be missed because of diplomatic and political hurdles.
Representative Frank Wolf, the senior Republican on the House of Representatives appropriations subcommittee for the Justice Department, criticized the decision to send prisoners back to Yemen or other countries where U.S. officials believe al-Qaida is active.
"I think it endangers our national security and endangers our citizens," Wolf said. With the latest transfers, there are 198 prisoners left at Guantánamo.