Fourteen years gone by, Kuwait's last Guantanamo detainee is reunited with his family

Published January 9th, 2016 - 05:00 GMT

Kuwait’s last remaining detainee at the infamous Guantanamo Bay prison arrived on a predawn flight at Kuwait airport after 14 years in captivity.

The plane landed at 5:07am more than one hour before sunrise in Kuwait, but his father and brother were at the airport to accord Fayez al-Kanderi a jubilant welcome.

The former detainee who was accompanied by a security team and a medical team could not hold his emotions upon seeing his father who was crying, witnesses told Kuwaiti daily Al Anba.

“I thank God that I can now hold my son and I am grateful that God has given me enough years in my life to hug my son again,” the father said.

The father also thanked the Emir Shaikh Sabah al-Ahmad, the crown prince and the foreign minister for the special efforts they made to help secure al-Kanderi’s release and return home following years of detention.

The former prisoner was taken out of the airport through a special gate and transported to the military hospital where he was briefly reunited with members of his family before he was taken for medical check-ups by a special team, sources told Al Anba.

“He will be questioned by the security agencies within the next 48 hours,” the sources said.

“There were several officers and officials from the interior ministry and the foreign ministry at the military hospital to monitor the case of al-Kanderi.”

On Friday, Kuwait’s Ambassador to the US Shaikh Salem Abdullah al-Jaber al-Sabah said that a Kuwaiti security team received the last remaining Kuwaiti detainee at Guantanamo, Kuwait News Agency (Kuna) reported.

Shaikh Salem congratulated the Emir, the Kuwaiti people and al-Kanderi’s family on the release.

The strong keenness of the Emir during contacts with former US President George W. Bush and sitting President Barack Obama, on closing the dossier of Kuwaitis detained in Guantanamo Bay largely contributed to the release of al-Kanderi, the ambassador said.

He also paid tributes to First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Shaikh Sabah Khaled al-Hamad al-Sabah for his contributions and the committee of the families of Kuwaiti detainees in Guantanamo for their efforts over the years, Kuna said.

“Al-Kanderi’s release is a positive progress in bilateral relations, marking the end of a sensitive issue that has always topped the priorities of the Kuwaiti government in contacts with the US,” the ambassador said.

“It is the end of a 13-years period marked by hard efforts and constant contacts to close the file. The move reflects real assessment of Kuwait’s role in countering terrorism, and the serious steps the country has taken in cooperation with the international community in this regard,” Shaikh Salem said.

By Habib Toumi

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