Guantanamo Prison, which houses detainees accused of participating in the 9/11 attacks, is preparing to remain open for at least another 25 years.
We need to “make sure our facilities can last 25 years,” Admiral John Ring, commander of the joint task force managing the controversial detention center, told reporters.
Following President Donald Trump’s decree on keeping the prison in use, “we were told that we would be here for 25 years or more,” he added during one of the regular press visits. organized by the US Army to show that it deals humanely with its prisoners.
Trump decided in late January to keep Guantanamo open, totally breaking with the repeated and ultimately unsuccessful attempts of his predecessor Barack Obama to close the prison denounced by human rights defenders, its detainees not being judged by human rights defenders. civil courts, but by military commissions. Their cases have raised legal challenges and lengthy delays.
But the US president has signed a decree ordering the Pentagon to “keep the prison facilities at Guantanamo Bay open.”
Shortly after, “the Pentagon sent us a memo telling us: be ready to stay open for 25 years or more,” said Admiral Ring to Mountain Post Gazette.
Opened in 2002 shortly after the arrest of the first jihadists as part of the US intervention in Afghanistan after the attacks of September 11, the detention center housed up to 780 prisoners.
There are only 40 left, aged 37 to 71 years. Yemeni Ali Hamza Ahmad al-Bahlul, a lieutenant of Osama bin Laden, was sentenced to life imprisonment. Another is awaiting his sentence, to be pronounced in the summer of 2019, and another 26 are considered too dangerous to be released.
Of the remaining twelve, five were deemed transferable to a third country by military commissions, the trials of the remaining seven are still ongoing.
To take care of this aging prison population, the detention center had to adapt and modernize its medical facilities.
But the 1800 soldiers who run the prison, from guards to kitchens to maritime surveillance patrols, are still numerous to be housed in aging barracks, some downright rundown.
The annual budget is $ 78 million and Admiral Ring reported that he has secured the services of a planning firm to try to make life easier for servicemen serving in Guantanamo for an average of only nine months, without their family who can not be accommodated on the spot.
Guantanamo has not received any new prisoners since 2008, but since his election campaign in 2016, Trump has not concealed his intention to send more “bad guys” captured in Syria or Iraq and his decree provided for the sending of new detainees.
Admiral Ring said he had not received any instructions so far: “We have not received an order,” he said. “We have no indication” to suggest that new jihadists could be transferred to Guantanamo in the near future.
NBC reported late last month that the Trump administration was planning to send members of the Islamic State group, including two British jihadists from the so-called “Beatles” cell, to Guantanamo.
If necessary, the center could accommodate an additional 40 inmates with the same facilities and staff, Admiral Ring said. The prison could even accommodate up to 200 inmates without needing to be expanded, but it would need additional staff.