x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Al Qa'eda militant surrenders himself

The former Guantanamo detainee who had undergone Saudi rehabilitation had joined an affiliate of the terror group in Yemen.

RIYADH //A former Saudi Guantanamo detainee who joined al Qa'eda's affiliate in Yemen after completing Saudi Arabia's rehabilitation programme for militants has surrendered to Saudi authorities, the interior ministry announced yesterday.

Jabir Jubran al Fayfi, 35, who was repatriated from Guantanamo in December 2006, fled to Yemen after graduating from the rehabilitation programme. In February last year, he appeared on a list of most wanted Saudis issued by the interior ministry.

Of the 109 Saudi detainees from Guantanamo who had gone through the programme as of June, Mr al Fayfi and 10 others had returned to militancy, joining al Qa'eda in the Arabian Peninsula, according to Abdulrahman al Hadlaq, a senior interior ministry official. Mr al Fayfi is the second of that group of 11 to surrender; Muhammed al Awfi returned to the kingdom in February last year.

During Ramadan, Mr al Fayfi called some officials he had met in the programme "and asked for their help" in returning home, the ministry spokesman, Gen Mansour al Turki said in a phone interview. He added that Yemeni officials assisted with Mr al Fayfi's repatriation.

Mr al Turki said that Mr al Fayfi will now "go through the legal process" with some consideration given to the fact that he turned himself in.

According to US defence department documents, Mr al Fayfi was detainee number 188 at Guantanamo. He denied US accusations that he had trained and fought with al Qa'eda or the Taliban while in Afghanistan.

He told US military interrogators that before going to Afghanistan, he had been a taxi-driver in Saudi Arabia, the documents show. He was born in 1975 in the southern Saudi town of Taif, Gen al Turki said.

Gen al Turki said that of the 85 wanted militants listed in 2009, five have surrendered, six have been killed and two arrested.

Mr al Fayfi's experience, Gen al Turki added, should be an example for "those who've been misled by al Qa'eda to take the same path and surrender".

According to a ministry statement, Mr al Fayfi "realised what wrong he was committing and that he preferred to surrender himself and go back to the right path instead of continuing to be astray".