U.S. Strike Kills Former Guantanamo Detainee in Yemen as Raids on Al-Qaeda Continue Under Trump

A man walks past graffiti denouncing strikes by U.S. drones in Yemen, painted on a wall in Sanaa, Yemen, February 6. The Pentagon confirmed Monday that the military had killed a former Guantanamo detainee in a Yemen strike on March 2. Reuters/Khaled Abdullah

The Pentagon said Monday that the military killed a former Guantanamo Bay detainee in a Yemen strike on March 2 targeting Al-Qaeda's most dangerous faction.

The strike, part of a renewed U.S. drive to target Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, killed Yasir al Silmi, who was held at the U.S. detention center in Cuba for seven years between 2002 and 2009 and then repatriated to Yemen.

"We can confirm the death of a former Guantanamo Bay detainee, Yasir al Silmi," Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis said on Monday, Reuters reported. He was also known as Mohammed Tahar.

According to memos released from the detention center in 2008, the Department of Defense warned that Tahar would "engage in extremist activities upon release. He has threatened personnel and continues to support jihad." The Associated Press reported that Rear Admiral Mark Buzby, the commander at Guantanamo in that year, had raised Tahar's risk level from "medium" to "high."

Authorities nonetheless released him and allowed him to return to his homeland in 2009. Washington stopped transferring Yemeni prisoners back to the country in 2010 because of its instability, only releasing them to third party countries willing to accept them.

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Davis said that the U.S. had conducted dozens of strikes against AQAP in the last week and would continue to pursue the group's militants in the country wracked by instability and civil war.

Air raids against the group have ramped up under President Donald Trump and he has temporarily banned Yemeni citizens from seeking residence in the U.S.

He also ordered his first special forces raid in the country in January, but the commandos failed to seize or kill their target, a senior AQAP leader. One U.S. troop and several civilians were killed in the ensuing firefight. Trump said the raid was a success as it had garnered significant intelligence.