Four Guantanamo detainees sent home to Afghanistan.

Four Guantánamo Detainees, Including “Taliban Intelligence Chief,” Sent Home to Afghanistan

Four Guantánamo Detainees, Including “Taliban Intelligence Chief,” Sent Home to Afghanistan

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Dec. 20 2014 1:16 PM

Four Guantánamo Detainees, Including “Taliban Intelligence Chief,” Sent Home to Afghanistan

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U.S. military guards move a detainee inside the detention center in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba on Sept. 16, 2010.

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

Four Afghans who have been imprisoned in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba for more than a decade were sent back home, the Pentagon said on Saturday. The repatriation brings down the number of detainees to 132. Although the number is still high considering that President Obama vowed to close Guantánamo when he took office almost six years ago, it is “more than two dozen fewer than a year ago,” details the Miami Herald’s Carol Rosenberg. Several more prisoners are likely to be transferred out of the detention camp over the next few weeks before Republicans take control of Congress.

The four men released overnight were sent to Guantánamo in 2003, and they were all cleared for release in 2009. In an illustration of just how badly some of the prisoners in Guantánamo had been misrepresented, one of the men—Abdul Ghani—was thought to have been a likely contender for a war crimes trial. Another one of the former detainees, Mohammad Zahir, had been described as a top intelligence official and weapons supplier, notes the Telegraph. But one administration official tells Reuters that “Most if not all of these accusations have been discarded and each of these individuals at worst could be described as low-level, if even that.”

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The transfer is seen as a vote of confidence on new Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who formally requested the four men be sent back to Afghanistan. Officials rushed to fulfill the request because they saw it as marking an era of improved relations between Afghanistan and the United States. An additional eight Afghans remain in Guantánamo.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the Today’s Papers column from 2006 to 2009. Follow him on Twitter.