Four Republican senators are calling for cutting foreign aid to Ghana if two former Guantanamo Bay prisoners who were transferred to the African nation escape or return to terrorism.
The move marks a renewed effort by security-minded lawmakers to use the power of the purse to effectively pressure other countries considering taking Guantanamo detainees.
In the case of Ghana, the country earlier this month accepted two detainees from Guantanamo Bay, part of the Obama administration’s latest wave of transfers out of the prison camp. But the senators, in a letter Wednesday to key committee leaders, warned that Ghana may be ill-equipped to handle the prisoners.
“The [Ghana] prison system is plagued by decay and mismanagement,” Sens. Mark Kirk, R-Ill.; Roy Blunt, R-Mo.; James Lankford, R-Okla.; and Steve Daines, R-Mont., wrote in the letter.
They said they’re concerned about the government’s “capacity to hold, monitor and ensure these terrorist detainees do not reengage in terrorism against the United States and our allies.”
In the letter to Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran, R-Miss., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., the senators asked that an upcoming appropriations bill include language cutting aid to Ghana by $10 million per detainee “in the event either of these detainees escapes from confinement or reengages in terrorism” while in their custody.
The request could pose yet another complication as President Obama seeks to bring down the number of detainees at Guantanamo and ultimately shutter the camp, a goal many in Congress oppose. In the process, the administration has had to deal with countries that don’t typically take terror detainees, like Ghana.
The inmates in question, Yemeni detainees Mahmoud Omar Mohammed Bin Atef and Khalid Mohammed Salih al Dhuby, were transferred on Jan. 6.
Bin Atef is an admitted member of the Taliban and fought for Usama bin Laden, while al Dhuby trained with Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.
The two inmates were the first of a group of 17 detainees expected to be transferred out of Guantanamo Bay.