Guantanamo Bay’s oldest prisoner Saifullah Paracha released after almost 20 years

Guantanamo Bay detention camp was opened by George W. Bush to hold terrorism suspects captured overseas after 9/11 attacks

Islamabad: Saifullah Paracha, the “last” Pakistani national who was held at Guantanamo Bay for almost 20 years, returned to his home country on Saturday after his release from the infamous US detention camp in Cuba, media reports said.

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Saifullah, now 74, was taken into custody from Bangkok in 2003 on suspicion of ties with Al Qaeda. Pakistan’s Samaa News earlier described Paracha as the “last Pakistani” in Guantanamo.

Pakistan Foreign Ministry said Saifullah was released from the high-security prison after an extensive inter-agency process to facilitate repatriation.

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“Mr Saif Ullah Paracha, a Pakistani national, who was detained in Guantanamo Bay, has been released and reached Pakistan on Saturday, 29 October, 2022. The Foreign Ministry completed an extensive inter-agency process to facilitate repatriation of Mr Paracha. We are glad that a Pakistani citizen detained abroad is finally reunited with his family,” the Pakistan Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The Guantanamo Bay detention camp is a United States military prison located within Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, also referred to as Guantanamo, GTMO.

The prison, which was opened by President George W. Bush to hold terrorism suspects captured overseas after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks came to symbolize harsh detention practices that opened the United States to accusations of torture.

The prison with high walls and barbed wires was opened in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks on the US by then president, George W Bush, to jail terrorism suspects captured overseas.

Soon, Guantanamo became notorious with harsh practices, opening the United States to criticism of torture. However, over the few years, the inmate population came down.

Last month, Pakistan interior ministry officials told the Senate’s Standing Committee on Human Rights that Saifullah Paracha will soon be released. His son Mustafa appeared before the standing committee meeting that was discussing the issue of Pakistani citizens who are detained in the US military prison.

His son told the Pak committee that his family is Pakistani by birth, Samaa News reported. Mustafa said his father and his brother were arrested in 2003 from Thailand and New York, respectively. They were awarded 30 years imprisonment, the report added.

This decision comes on the heel of Pakistan’s exit from the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) ‘grey list’.

Though Islamabad managed to exit the list, the global watchdog stated that Pakistan would continue to work with the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering to further improve its anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing system.

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