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WaPo Swallows Obama Line on Guantanamo and Yemen

Reporting on President Barack Obama’s damage control meeting with U.S. intelligence agencies, Karen DeYoung and Michael Fletcher write in the January 6th Washington Post:

But [Obama] said he will continue with already delayed plans to close [Guantanamo Bay], which he said “has damaged our national security interests and become a tremendous recruiting tool for al-Qaeda.”

“In fact,” he added, “that was an explicit rationale for the formation of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.”

The Yemen-based group, known as AQAP, was founded in part by prisoners released from Guantanamo Bay during George W. Bush’s administration.

DeYoung and Fletcher are technically correct that AQAP “was founded in part by prisoners released from Guantanamo Bay during George W. Bush’s administration.” But pairing this fact with Obama’s claim is grossly misleading. Obama is 100% wrong. al-Qaeda was in the Arabian Pennisula long before George Bush was even president, let alone before he created the prison at Guantanamo Bay. Heritage Foundation Senior Research Fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs James Phillips details:

In fact, al-Qaeda’s first terrorist attack against Americans came in Yemen, the ancestral homeland of Osama bin Laden’s father, who had migrated to neighboring Saudi Arabia before the birth of the al-Qaeda leader. In December 1992, bin Laden’s followers bombed a hotel in Yemen that was used by U.S. military personnel involved in supporting the humanitarian food relief flights to Somalia.

In October 2000, seventeen American sailors on board the USS Cole, were killed in an al-Qaeda bombing in the harbor of Aden, Yemen’s main port. An earlier attack on another U.S. naval vessel, The Sullivans, had failed in January of that year when the attackers’ boat sank under the weight of its own bomb. In 2002, al-Qaeda bombed the French oil tanker Limbourg off the coast of Yemen. Later that year, a senior al-Qaeda leader was killed in Yemen in one of the first publicly revealed Predator drone attacks.