The Biden administration has sent a Saudi detainee who planned to hijack planes on Sept. 11, 2001, home from Guantanamo Bay.
Mohammed al-Qahtani, who has been held at the U.S. base since 2002, was returned to Saudi Arabia for psychiatric treatment, the Pentagon announced on Monday. The Biden administration decided in February to repatriate him through a Saudi “custodial rehabilitation and mental health care program for extremists,” according to the New York Times.
The news comes as the Biden administration is reportedly considering a trip to Saudi Arabia to discuss increased oil exports. During his campaign, Biden promised to make the Gulf nation a “pariah” for killing former Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
“Khashoggi was, in fact, murdered and dismembered, and I believe on the order of the crown prince,” Biden said during a Democratic primary debate in Atlanta. “And I would make it very clear we were not going to, in fact, sell more weapons to them, we were going to, in fact, make them pay the price and make them, in fact, the pariah that they are.”
Biden also promised to “end subsidies” for Saudi Arabia, which would include oil subsidies.
A panel that reviews the cases of uncharged Guantanamo prisoners determined in 2021 that al-Qahtani no longer needed to be detained and did not pose a “significant threat to the national security of the United States.” Al-Qahtani’s lawyers had long encouraged repatriation, saying the Saudi national has exhibited symptoms of schizophrenia and has “repeatedly attempted suicide” under detention.
Al-Qahtani was nabbed by an immigration inspector on Aug. 4, 2001, when he was on his way from Saudi Arabia to meet Mohammed Atta, one of the leaders of the terrorist attack that killed more than 3,000 Americans.