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Yemeni President Ali ­Abdullah Saleh and U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser John Brennan met in March 2009 to discuss moving Yemeni detainees at Guantanamo Bay to another prison. Throughout the leaked cable detailing the meeting, Saleh refuses the proposed American plan of moving the detainees to a 120-inmate facility in Saudi Arabia. Saleh shows interest only in building his own detention center in Yemen, and he demands $11 million from the U.S. and Saudi Arabia for construction costs. Yemeni opposition parties, he says, won’t be happy with him if he agrees to transfer the Yemeni citizens at Gitmo to a prison in Saudi Arabia. U.S officials reject a handful of alternate suggestions from Saleh, including sending the detainees to ADX Florence. The federal “supermax” prison in Colorado is sometimes called the Alcatraz of the Rockies, and Saleh refers to it as the “Moayad prison.”

The West According to WikiLeaks: Send Gitmo Detainees to Colorado?

“Saleh asked why the U.S. didn’t simply keep the detainees at Guantanamo or send them to the ‘Moayad prison’ while Yemen builds its own facility. (Note: Saleh was referring to the federal prison in Colorado where convicted Yemeni terrorist financier Mohammed al-Moayad is currently being held.)”

— from a March 2009 diplomatic cable

Yemeni President Ali ­Abdullah Saleh and U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser John Brennan met in March 2009 to discuss moving Yemeni detainees at Guantanamo Bay to another prison. Throughout the leaked cable detailing the meeting, Saleh refuses the proposed American plan of moving the detainees to a 120-inmate facility in Saudi Arabia.

Saleh shows interest only in building his own detention center in Yemen, and he demands $11 million from the U.S. and Saudi Arabia for construction costs. Yemeni opposition parties, he says, won’t be happy with him if he agrees to transfer the Yemeni citizens at Gitmo to a prison in Saudi Arabia.

U.S officials reject a handful of alternate suggestions from Saleh, including sending the detainees to ADX Florence. The federal “supermax” prison in Colorado is sometimes called the Alcatraz of the Rockies, and Saleh refers to it as the “Moayad prison.”

At the time, the penitentiary held Mohammed Ali Hassan Al-Moayad, a Yemeni cleric imprisoned at the penetentiary after his conviction for funneling millions of dollars to al-Qaeda and other terror groups. The U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the conviction in 2008. Al-Moayad later pleaded guilty to lesser charges and officials deported him in 2009.

ADX Florence opened in 1994 and is home to a host of infamous criminals, including “shoe bomber” Richard Reid, Unabomber Ted Kazcynski, Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols, 1996 Olympic bomber Eric Rudolph and 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui.
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Yemeni detainees account for about half of the prisoners still housed at Gitmo, according to the New York Times. An account of the meeting between Saleh and Brennan also appeared in the Guardian.

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About “The West According to WikiLeaks”: As an experiment, I searched the cables for keywords related to the Rocky Mountain West and read the documents that generated interesting hits. In dribs and drabs, the searches turned up snapshots of how U.S. diplomats refer to the region during high-level negotiations and how people from Rocky Mountain states help out around the globe.

{encode=”brad@newwest.net” title=”Brad Turner”} is editor of New West. This is the second installment of an occasional column.

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One comment

  1. We should close gitmo and move them to the prison in Colorado, but that makes too much sense.