According to US officials and Department of Defense documents, two of the four al Qaeda members behind the plot to blow up Northwest 253 were released from the Guantanamo prison in November 2007.
American officials agreed to send the two terrorists from Guantanamo to Saudi Arabia where they entered into an “art therapy rehabilitation program” and were set free, according to U.S. and Saudi officials.
Guantanamo prisoner #333, Muhamad Attik al-Harbi, and prisoner #372, Said Ali Shari, were sent to Saudi Arabia on Nov. 9, 2007, according to the Defense Department log of detainees who were released from American custody. Al-Harbi has since changed his name to Muhamad al-Awfi.
Both of the former Guantanamo detainees are described as military commanders and appear on a January, 2009 video along with the man described as the top leader of al Qaeda in Yemen, Abu Basir Naser al-Wahishi, formerly Osama bin Laden’s personal secretary.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula issued a statement Monday claiming responsibility for the incident referring to suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab as a “hero” and “martyr.”
The two-page written claim included a photo of Abdulmutallab and boasted of Al Qaeda’s success in designing “advanced explosive packages” that can pass through airport screening undetected.
The statement also asks for attacks upon Americans in the Arabian peninsula, and promises further attacks on the American people.
A US diplomat says, “The so-called rehabilitation programs are a joke,” but the Saudis say these programs help return terrorists to meaningful lives.