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Biden releases Al Qaeda instructor held at Guantanamo Bay for two decades



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The Biden Administration has just released Said bin Brahim bin Umran Bakush, a suspected Al Qaeda instructor. The terrorist was returned to Algeria on Thursday after being held at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay for two decades.

“The United States appreciates the willingness of the Government of Algeria, and other partners to support ongoing U.S. efforts toward a deliberate and thorough process focused on responsibly reducing the detainee population and ultimately closing the Guantanamo Bay facility,” the Pentagon said in a statement.

According to the New York Times, Bakush is the sixth Guantanamo prisoner released in the past six months; an effort to reduce the population and eventually shut down the facility. A DOD review board determined Bakush was eligible for transfer on April 13, after Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin notified Congress of his intent to repatriate the detainee in February, according to the statement.

The Daily Caller News Foundation reports:

Bakush is one of the last detainees to be released among a group of 20 suspected low-level Islamist fighters captured in a 2002 raid on facilities U.S. and Pakistani authorities believed Al Qaeda was using as safe houses, according to The New York Times. The Department of Defense (DOD) reached an agreement with Algeria to transfer Bakush, originally thought to hail from Libya, subject to continued monitoring, travel restrictions and security conditions, the statement said

…All 20 operatives swept up the raid on Faisalabad dwellings were detained in Guantanamo, but only one remains as of Bakush’s transfer, the NYT reported.

U.S. forces initially identified Bakush as Ali Abdul Razzaq from Libya, but he later claimed to be from Algeria and gave his name as Said Bakush, the NYT reported.

Bakush became increasingly reclusive during his two decades as prisoner, boycotting hearings to determine his suitability for release and in 2017 or 2018 refusing to speak with his lawyer, H. Candace Gorman, according to the NYT. He huddled in his cell at Camp 6, a building where more pliant detainees are permitted to eat, pray and watch TV together.

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Mental health crisis spikes among Afghan women after Taliban regained control two years ago



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The women of Afghanistan are suffering a mental health crisis since the Taliban regained power two years ago. According to a joint report from three U.N. agencies released Tuesday, approximately 70% of women experience feelings of anxiety, isolation and depression.

The numbers continue to rise, as there has already been a significant jump between April and June of this year alone, with an increase from 57%  the preceding quarter.

The report, conducted by U.N. Women, the International Organization for Migration and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, interviewed women online, in-person and in group consultations as well as individual telesurveys.

592 Afghan women in 22 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces took part in the study. The Associated Press reports:

They have barred women from most areas of public life and work and banned girls from going to school beyond the sixth grade. They have prohibited Afghan women from working at local and non-governmental organizations. The ban was extended to employees of the United Nations in April.

Opportunities to study continued to shrink as community-based education by international organizations was banned and home-based schooling initiatives were regularly shut down by the de facto authorities — a term use by the U.N. for the Taliban government.

Afghanistan is the only country in the world with restrictions on female education and the rights of Afghan women and children are on the agenda of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

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