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Percent Of Detainees Who Return To Terrorism After Release Edges Up

Almost 28 percent of the detainees transferred out of the U.S.-run detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have either returned to terrorism or are suspected of having done so, the Director of National Intelligence says in a new report.

That's almost a full percentage point higher than last year's figure and is in line with evidence that indicates the number of detainees suspected or confirmed of embracing terrorism has been steadily increasing since 2010.

According to the DNI's figures, 168 of the 602 detainees released from Guantanamo are either confirmed to have "reengaged in terrorism" or are "suspected of reengaging."

Confirmed cases are those in which a "preponderance of information" identifies a specific former detainee as having been directly involved in terrorist or insurgent activities. Suspected cases cover those where there is "plausible but unverified or single-source reporting" that indicates a former Guantanamo detainee is involved in those activities.

Engaging in anti-American statements or propaganda doesn't qualify as that kind of activity.

In its report, the DNI states that:

"Based on trends identified during the past 10 years, we assess that if additional detainees are transferred without conditions from GTMO, some will reengage in terrorist or insurgent activities. Transfers to countries with ongoing conflicts and internal instability as well as active recruitment by insurgent and terrorist organizations pose a particular problem."

The leadership of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, al-Qaida's arm in Yemen, reads like a who's who of former GITMO detainees. The brother of the group's leader was a detainee; as was one of the group's second in command, its operations chief, and its top theologian.

The report is also here. Click on the title — "Reengagement of Detainees" — to pop up a larger version.

(Dina Temple-Raston is NPR's counterterrorism correspondent.)

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Dina Temple-Raston is a correspondent on NPR's Investigations team focusing on breaking news stories and national security, technology and social justice.

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