US transfers two Guantanamo Bay detainees to Pakistan

The United States has transferred two brothers from the Guantanamo Bay US detention facility in Cuba to Pakistan, bringing the total number of people held at Guantanamo down to 32, the Pentagon said on Thursday.

The Guantanamo prison camp was established by Republican President George W. Bush in 2002 to house foreign terrorism suspects following the 2001 hijacked plane attacks on New York and the Pentagon that killed about 3,000 people.

It came to symbolize the excesses of the US "war on terror". The prison camp became synonymous with torture methods such as waterboarding and other cruel interrogation techniques.

There were 40 detainees when President Joe Biden, a Democrat, took office in 2021. Biden has said he hopes to close the facility. The federal government is barred by law from transferring Guantanamo detainees to US mainland prisons.

On Thursday, the Pentagon announced the repatriation of Abdul Rabbani and Mohammed Rabbani to Pakistan.

Both were arrested in 2002. Abdul Rabbani was allegedly an al Qaeda facilitator while US authorities claimed Mohammed Rabbani was a financial and travel facilitator for prominent al Qaeda leaders. 

"The United States appreciates the willingness of the Government of Pakistan and other partners to support ongoing U.S. efforts focused on responsibly reducing the detainee population and ultimately closing the Guantanamo Bay facility," the Pentagon said in a statement.

A total of 32 detainees remain, of whom 18 are eligible for transfer, the Pentagon said in its statement.

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