In Summary

• The family has expressed fears for Abdul Malik's safety once he is back to Kenya.

 “As a family, we talked to him on January 26 via Skype. He insisted that he would want to come back home after his release,” his sister said.  Mohammed Abdul Malik Bajabu

The only Kenyan held at the American military prison at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba wants to come home after his release.

Mohammed Abdul Malik Bajabu has been held at the facility for 15 years over alleged links to terrorism. He has not faced formal charges and has not had a trial.

He is scheduled to be released following a successful review of his case and charges by the Periodic Review Board. But a country must agree to take him in. 

On December 27 last year, the Periodic Review Board, which is composed of senior officials from the US Departments of Defence, Homeland Security, Justice and National Intelligence, concluded Malik could be safely transferred to another country. It called for security assurances.

The release was authorised in light of his “low level of training and lack of a leadership role in his pre-detention activities," the board said.

The PRB reviews whether continued detention of particular individuals at Guantanamo remains necessary to protect against a significant threat to the security of the United States.  

The PRB said once a detainee is cleared for release, he cannot leave the prison until the US works out a diplomatic arrangement with another country willing to accept him.

Mwajuma Rajab, who is Malik’s elder sister, said their brother wants to come home after 15 years.

Mostly of the time, she is referred to as his mother because she helped raise him.

“As a family, we talked to him on January 26 via Skype. He insisted he would want to come back home after his release,” Mwajuma said.

However, she said the family expressed their reservations about his safety once he is back to Kenya.

Police have been implicated in forcible disappearances of terror suspects but they deny any extrajudicial actions.

“We informed him of the dangers he will be exposed to if he comes back. His safety is not guaranteed, but he said he only wants to come to Kenya, not any other nation,” she said.

Malik, whose family lives in Likoni in Mombasa, was arrested by Kenyan authorities in February 2007 in connection with terrorism activities. 

He was turned over to US custody a few weeks later and was being held as 'a law-of-war detainee' at the Guantanamo Bay maximum security facility.

He is allowed to talk to his family once every three months. 

On Monday, Mwajuma told the Star that the national government has not said anything in regards to the pending release of their brother.

“We are worried. The government has been quiet about this whole issue, they should at least say something so that when he comes back home, we are sure of his security,” she said.

Since his arrest in 2007, Malik has been separated from his wife and three children as well as his extended family.

He was the only Kenyan captive held at the US military base, which is used to detain suspected militants and terrorists captured by US forces.

On January 12, Malik’s lawyer Mark Maher, who works for Reprieve US, a non-profit legal charity in Washington, DC, said, "The decision to release the suspect is wonderful news.”

He said, "Abdul Malik has been unjustly detained for 15 years without charge or trial. He longs to be reunited with his family, and we hope the Biden administration will ensure his release happens quickly."

Another suspect due to be released from Guantanamo is a Somali national, Guled Hassan Duran, who has been held at the facility since 2006.

Since 2002, about 780 detainees have been held at the facility. Only 39 men remain.

Of the 39 detainees, 12 have been charged with war crimes in the military commissions system, 10 are awaiting trial and two have been convicted.

In addition, nine detainees are held in 'indefinite law-of-war detention' and are neither facing tribunal charges nor being recommended for release.

Eighteen are held in law-of-war detention, but have been recommended for transfer with security arrangements to another country.

Following US President Joe Biden’s election, his administration has confirmed it intends to finally close the US’ most infamous prison.

While no one has been released since Biden assumed office, five men have been cleared for transfer in a rigorous process by the PRB.

Malik and Duran have both had their PRB hearings and are now scheduled for release. But who will take them?

(Edited by V, Graham) By Charles Mghenyi, The Star