In a surprise move, the Trump administration is set to release a former terrorist linked to a top al-Qaeda planner of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. According to Judicial Watch (JW), a nonprofit government watchdog group, the parole board for the military tribunal with jurisdiction over prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay has approved the release of Said Salih Said Nashir of Yemen.

U.S. NEWS: In a Rare Move, Trump Administration Clears Gitmo ‘Forever Prisoner’ For Release

In a surprise move, the Trump administration is set to release a former terrorist linked to a top al-Qaeda planner of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

According to Judicial Watch (JW), a nonprofit government watchdog group, the parole board for the military tribunal with jurisdiction over prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay has approved the release of Said Salih Said Nashir of Yemen.

JW reported on Wednesday that Nashir was held at Gitmo as a “forever prisoner.” That means he was considered too dangerous to be released yet could not be prosecuted. Nashir has been imprisoned at Gitmo for more than 18 years.

In its report, JW said government records indicated he had been trained in Afghanistan “to participate in terrorist operations against U.S. forces in Karachi, Pakistan, and inside the U.S.”

Said Salih Said Nashir

Specifically, he was part of a “special terrorist team deployed to attack targets in Karachi, including hotels frequented by American soldiers,” according to JW.

After being captured in 2002, JW reported, Nashir was shipped to Gitmo in order to provide information on the camp where he was trained, various safe houses located in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran, and an al-Qaeda recruiter, Marwan Mughil. Files recovered from a laptop discovered at a safe house he shared with other terrorists “contained information that could have been used in targeting aircraft, to support hijacking and other terrorist operations.”

The government characterized Nashir, who is said to be in his 40s, as “a high risk likely to pose a threat to the U.S. and of high intelligence value.” The parole board had previously denied his request for release, saying that his continued detention was “necessary to protect against a continuing significant threat to the security of the United States.”

That was based on his connection to Walid bin Attash.

The Defense Department maintains that Attash helped execute the bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998, as well as the attack on the USS Cole in 2000. Attash also was one of Osama bin Laden’s top lieutenants and personally selected and trained some of the 9/11 hijackers.

He has been held at Gitmo for 14 years.

As for Nashir, the parole board determined that his “continued detention is no longer necessary to protect against the significant threat he once posed to the security of the United States.”

That’s because he reportedly received “low level” training and was not in the leadership of al-Qaeda or the Taliban.

But the board also mentioned “his efforts to improve himself while in detention, to include taking numerous courses at Guantanamo.” And the panel believed Nashir has dependable family support and a “credible plan for supporting himself in the event of transfer,” JW reported.

The parole board recommended that he be subject to “robust security assurances to include monitoring, travel restrictions and integration support.” 

JW called that folly, noting that more than 100 prisoners released from Gitmo have returned to terrorist activities.

National Public Radio reported that Nashir is just the second Gitmo prisoner cleared for release by the Trump administration. He’s the first under Trump to gain his freedom via parole.

It’s unclear where he will go once released, or exactly when that will happen. Gitmo, which President Barack Obama promised to close more than a decade ago, still houses 40 suspected terrorists.

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