A dozen former Guantanamo Bay prison inmates freed by the Obama administration are suspected of joining militant groups after their release, the U.S. government announced Monday.
The U.S. has only been able to confirm that, as of Jan. 15, seven out of 144 Guantanamo prisoners who have been freed since Barack Obama took office in January 2009 have joined militant groups, according to figures released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). That's up from six since last July.
The ODNI report is released every six months and does not give details on where or for which groups the former detainees are confirmed or suspected to be fighting.
While the report says the men "returned" to fighting, it's not clear if the men were part of militant groups before being detained at Guantanamo.
The U.S. has also falsely accused former Guantanamo inmates of joining extremists. In 2009, the U.S. said Sahib Rohullah Wakil had "associations with terrorist groups." The McClatchy news service found that he was in fact working as an adviser for the U.S.-backed Afghan government.
The ODNI figures showed that 111 of 532 prisoners released by the Republican administration of President George W. Bush are confirmed to have joined militant groups, with 74 others suspected of doing so. Under Bush, suspected militants were rounded up overseas as the United States became embroiled in wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and imprisoned at Guantanamo.
The increase could fuel Republican attacks on Democratic President Barack Obama's plan to close the U.S. military prison in Cuba, which has come to symbolize aggressive detention practices following the Sep. 11, 2001 attacks and opened the U.S. to accusations of torture. Most detainees have been held without trial for more than a decade.
The closure plan, drawn up by the Pentagon and which requires approval by Congress, proposes 13 potential sites on U.S. soil to hold 30-60 detainees in maximum-security prisons.