Our nation is at war with radical Islamic terrorism, which continues to threaten Americans at home and abroad. The terrorist attack in Orlando was carried out by a terrorist who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, a sobering reminder that the Islamic State is spreading a message of radical hate around the world to attract new recruits and inspire attacks as it continues to fight in places like Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Afghanistan.
To win the war against the Islamic State and defeat their radical Islamic ideology, we need a comprehensive and thoughtful strategy. Unfortunately, President Obama’s strategy for combating the Islamic State lacks resolve and strength – notably their weak-kneed detainee policy, including the management of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Amid President Obama’s misguided allegiance to a 2008 campaign promise to close Gitmo, his efforts to release detainees have continued in the face of evidence that this position is not in our national security interest. Just this week, the administration released Abdel Malik Ahmed Abdel Wahab al-Rahabi, a Gitmo detainee who was accused of being former al Qaeda leader Usama bin Laden’s bodyguard.
Al-Rahabi is one of at least two dozen detainees set for release this summer, and make no mistake: the detainees who still remain at Gitmo are the worst of the worst. We can’t allow freed terrorist detainees like bin Laden’s bodyguard to put American lives at risk, which is why we have introduced legislation to immediately ban Gitmo transfers until the president signs this year’s National Defense Authorization Act, which includes numerous new safeguards, or until January 2017, when President Obama leaves office.
According to President Obama’s own Director of National Intelligence (DNI), the recidivism rate of former Gitmo detainees is nearly one in three. This alarming statistic was amplified further in the recent report that at least 12 former Gitmo detainees have returned to the battlefield and killed Americans. This should send a chill down the spine of every American.
Unfortunately, news of former Gitmo detainees returning to the battlefield has been making headlines more frequently – too frequently.
Earlier this year, we learned that a former detainee nicknamed “Spanish Taliban” left Gitmo to lead a recruiting operation for the Islamic State in Spain and Morocco. Then another former Gitmo detainee resurfaced as a leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) operating out of Yemen.
In times like these, we must prioritize the safety and security of the American people over the fulfillment of campaign promises.
Enough is enough. We remain a nation at war, and with all that we know about radical Islam coupled with the dangers created by these detainee transfers, it is time to halt these transfers before more harm can be done.
Republican Jackie Walorski represents Indiana’s 2nd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives where she serves as a member of the House Armed Services Committee.
Republican Steve Daines represents Montana in the United States Senate where he serves on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense.