July 14, 2015 / 5:56 PM / 2 years ago

U.S. Guantanamo board weighs case of alleged al-Qaeda member

2 Min Read

ARLINGTON, Va. (Reuters) - A Yemeni man suspected of being a member of al Qaeda, who has been held at Guantanamo Bay military prison since 2002, faced a U.S. national security board on Tuesday to determine if he should be transferred out of the prison.

Salman Yahya Hassan Muhammad Rabei’i, 36, is suspected of having fought in Afghanistan, according to a U.S. Department of Defence profile.

It said Rabei’i was at al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s Tora Bora complex in 2001 and was captured by fighters from the Northern Alliance that year.

The hearing before the parole-style Periodic Review Board was to weigh whether Rabei'i posed a threat to the United States. The Pentagon profile said Rabei’i probably still had anti-American views and sympathized with extremists.

It was not clear from the 10-minute portion of the hearing that was unclassified what would become of Rabei'i if he was found to not be a threat to the United States. The hearing was shown on a closed-circuit television link from Guantanamo Bay, the U.S. naval base in Cuba, to a viewing site near the Pentagon where reporters had gathered.

His lawyer said Rabei'i was eager to support his mother and sisters, get a job, marry and start a family.

Reading from a statement, the lawyer said a transfer to Yemen was not realistic.

The Arabian Peninsula country is torn by fighting between Shi'ite rebels and forces loyal to President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

Rabei’i wore a white T-shirt and sat with his lawyer, military representative and other officials. The national security panel was not shown.

U.S. President Barack Obama has promised to close the notorious prison, which has been scorned by critics around the world. It was opened in 2002 to house people detained in the U.S. campaign against al Qaeda.

Eleven inmates have been transferred this year and 116 are still detained at the prison.

Reporting by Idrees Ali; Additional reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Toni Reinhold

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