Al-Rawi and al-Banna, also a UK resident, were originally suspected of ties to al Qaeda because of their alleged connection with radical Muslim cleric Abu Qatada. The men were arrested returning to the UK from Gambia with a suspicious electronic device, which they claimed was a battery charger, and were taken into US custody. Despite a general refusal to represent resident aliens at Guantanamo, the British government agreed to help secure al Rawi's release last year after learning that al-Rawi had previously aided British security service MI5. UK Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett announced al-Rawi's impending release last Thursday; no official comments have been made regarding al-Banna's status.
British resident and Iraqi citizen Bisher al-Rawi was released this weekend from the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay after nearly five years in custody as an enemy combatant. Officials have not confirmed the exact time of al-Rawi's release, but he issued a statement Sunday from his family's home in London. Al-Rawi expressed his happiness to be free and described his "nightmare" at Guantanamo: "Allegations are made against you that are laughably untrue, but you have no chance to prove them wrong. There is no trial, no fair legal process." Al-Rawi was also regretful that his "best friend" Jamil al-Banna remains imprisoned at Guantanamo.
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