Washington – A former bodyguard for al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden has been cleared for release from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the first in a series of review hearings that the Obama administration is holding to speed up the eventual closure of the U.S. military prison for terrorist detainees, the Pentagon announced Thursday.
Mahmoud Abd Al Aziz al-Mujahid, who allegedly underwent militant training at a secret camp in Afghanistan, is no longer a “significant threat” to the United States and is eligible for transfer from the prison at some point, the review board members decided.
He has been a captive at Guantanamo since his arrest near Afghanistan’s Tora Bora mountains when U.S. troops were closing in on a bin Laden hideout not long after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. At one time, he was considered a “high risk” al-Qaida fighter and “a committed jihadist.” Bin Laden was killed in a U.S. military raid in 2011.
Accused diplomat leaves on U.S. orders
New York – An Indian diplomat accused of lying about how much she paid her housekeeper was ordered out of the United States on Thursday after she was indicted on two criminal charges and Indian authorities refused to waive her immunity, authorities said.
Devyani Khobragade, who had been strip-searched when arrested, left the country by plane Thursday night after being charged by a federal grand jury with visa fraud and making false statements in a case that has triggered an outcry in India. She’s accused of fraudulently obtaining a work visa for her New York housekeeper.
Authorities say Khobragade claimed to pay her Indian maid $4,500 per month but gave her far less than the U.S. minimum wage.
U.S. plans to train Libyan soldiers
Washington – The Pentagon is planning to begin training 5,000 to 8,000 Libyan soldiers by midyear to help bolster the nation’s security, according to the top U.S. military commander for Africa.
The U.S. is also looking into providing additional airlift assistance to South Sudan, where violence has killed more than 1,000 people and driven 180,000 from their homes in the last month.
Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon, Gen. David Rodriguez, head of U.S. Africa Command, said the U.S. is planning a 24-week training program to help the Libyans, as part of a broader international effort to shore up security in the country and region in the aftermath of the 2011 fall of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi.