Pentagon: Gitmo population to soon drop below 100

Story highlights

  • A new transfer brings the current population at the detention center to 103 prisoners
  • At its peak in 2003, the facility held about 680 detainees

Washington (CNN)The number of detainees at the Guantanamo Bay detention center is expected to drop below 100 in the coming days, the Pentagon said Monday.

Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis delivered the news on the same day the Defense Department announced the transfer of Muhammed Abd Al Rahman Awn Al-Shamrani back to his native Saudi Arabia.
The transfer, coupled with separate transfer of other prisoners to Ghana and Kuwait last week, brings the current population at the detention center to 103 prisoners.
Defense Secretary Ashton Carter approved the transfer of 17 detainees last month, and 13 more are expected to be announced by the Pentagon in the coming days.
Once that happens, the number of those deemed eligible for transfer at the prison would drop to 31. Carter would need to notify Congress of his intent to approve any additional releases along with finding another country willing to accept them under the conditions placed by the United States.
President Barack Obama says the prison -- which holds suspected members of terrorist groups captured overseas -- is a recruiting tool for terrorists and is too costly to maintain.
During his presidency, the number of detainees has dwindled from 241 to 107, and he said last month he expected that number to get below 100 by early next year. But he has hit roadblock after roadblock -- most often placed by Capitol Hill -- in his effort to clear out the prison.
At its peak in 2003, the facility held about 680 detainees.