Connect to share and comment

To close Guantanamo, stability needed in Yemen

Half of Guantanamo Bay's 180 detainees are Yemeni, meaning it won't close anytime soon.

The young men, Jemhi said, are often influenced by the hardline Islamic doctrine of Salafism, and are susceptible to the religious message of Al Qaeda.

Even some Yemeni media have become sympathetic to the Islamist movement, he said.

“From my observation, some television presenters say that Al Qaeda operations are good things, especially when they make an operation against the foreign people," he said.

Although Yemenis are generally welcoming toward individual foreigners, growing antipathy to foreign interference, particularly from the United States, is fueling concerns about the radicalization of young people.

All of this was aggravated in May by the accidental death of the deputy governor of Maarib Province in what was meant to be a targeted assassination of a militant. Although U.S. forces have never officially confirmed their involvement, the death was universally blamed on America.

The continuing detention of about 90 Yemeni detainees at Guantanamo Bay has become part of a vicious circle of radicalism. The Al Qaeda group here cites the imprisonment without charge of Yemenis as one of the driving forces behind their attacks.

It’s a view that is shared by even those in Yemen’s mainstream.

“Their dignity should be preserved,” Allawo said. “They should not be subjected to emergency trial, should not be tortured or subjected to inhuman treatment, their punishment should be decided by a judge.”

Muhammad Odaini's brother, Bashir, a recently released detainee, said the prison is having the opposite effect it should and is making the security situation worse in Yemen.

“If you keep the bad people, it is better for everything, even us,” he said. “[But] if you keep arresting innocent people, you keep making bad feeling — and it is increasing.”