Middle East

Former Guantanamo detainee killed in US air strike in Yemen

People walk past a guard tower outside the fencing of Camp 5 at the US Military's Prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba on January 26, 2017. Image copyright AFP
Image caption The former Guantanamo prisoner was classified at risk of returning to "extremist activities" but was released

A former inmate of Guantanamo Bay has been killed by a US air strike in Yemen targeting al-Qaeda, the Pentagon said.

"We can confirm the death of a former Guantanamo Bay detainee, Yasir al-Silmi," Navy Captain Jeff Davis said.

Yasir al-Silmi had been held in the controversial detention centre in Cuba between 2002 and 2009.

He was killed in a strike on 2 March, the Pentagon said, in one of the dozens of air strikes on Yemen in the past week.

The former Guantanamo prisoner - also known as Mohammed Tahar - was a Yemeni national whom the US Department of Defence as recently as 2008 recommended be kept in detention.

"It is assessed detainee will engage in extremist activities upon release. He has threatened [Guantanamo] personnel and continues to support jihad," a leaked Department of Defence memo at the time said.

He was killed in the same strike as Usayd al-Adani, "a long-time Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula explosives expert and facilitator who served as the organisation's emir," Cpt Davis said.

A strike the following day killed Adani's spokesman, he added.

It is not clear if Yasir al-Silmi was an intended target. However, Cpt Davis told the Reuters news agency he had not been considered a "high-value" target.

The US has ramped up its attacks on the al-Qaeda affiliate forces in the Arabian peninsula.

The Department of Defence said its attacks are "to keep the pressure on the terrorists and deny them access and freedom of movement within traditional safe havens".

But local residents said the casualties in last week's fighting included children.

"[Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula] has taken advantage of ungoverned spaces in Yemen to plot, direct and inspire terror attacks against the United States and our allies," he said.

"And we will continue to work with the government of Yemen to defeat" them.

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