Flight 253

Freed Gitmo Detainees Behind Attack

Following al Qaeda's statement taking responsibility for the Christmas Day attack on Northwest Flight 253, ABC News reports that two of the bomb plot's masterminds were former Guantanamo Bay detainees, freed in November 2007 and sent back to their home nation of Saudi Arabia. Guantanamo prisoner No. 333, Muhamad Attik al-Harbi (who has since changed his name to Muhamad al-Awfi), and prisoner No. 372, Said Ali Shari, have since been described as al Qaeda commanders and appear in propaganda videos filmed in 2009. After their release, the former prisoners entered an "art therapy rehabilitation program" in Saudi Arabia, then are believed to have migrated to Yemen where they joined a growing hotbed of al Qaeda-networked terrorist organizations. One U.S. diplomat said Saudi Arabia's "so-called rehabilitation programs are a joke," and ABC News notes that a similar repatriation program in Yemen was abandoned after authorities concluded participants were funneling straight back into terrorism.