Released Detainee Said He ‘Developed a Love for Watercolors’ at Gitmo

A recently-released Guantanamo Bay detainee from Yemen who allegedly served as a bodyguard to Osama bin Laden revealed that he and his fellow  prisoners were given opportunities for education and personal growth at the military detention facility, including classes in art, English, and business.

Abdel Malik Ahmed Abdel Wahab Al Rahabi, a Yemeni national identified as an “enemy combatant,” wasreleased June 22 and transferred to Montenegro.

According to the Dept. of Defense (DOD), “Al Rahabi  was recommended for transfer by consensus of the six departments and agencies comprising thePeriodic Review Board.”

His transfer served as part of President Obama’s campaign to close the facility, which is located in Cuba.

“For many years, it’s been clear that the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay does not advance our national security — it undermines it,” Obama said. “Guantanamo harms our partnerships with allies and other countries whose cooperation we need against terrorism.”

A 2008 DOD memo said that Al Rahabi was originally imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay in 2001 for being “a member of al-Qaida and a former Usama Bin Laden (UBL) bodyguard” who “is related, by marriage, to UBL. Detainee swore bayat (oath of allegiance) to UBL and received specialized close combat training for his role as a suicide operative in an aborted component of the 11 September 2001 al-Qaida attacks.”

Al Rahabi discussed his newfound love for watercolor painting during his 2014 hearing by the Periodic Review Board, which was held to determine whether he was suitable for release. In a written statement to the review board in January 2014, Al Rahabi described his activities at Gitmo.

“I developed a love for watercolors. I have spent countless hours drawing landscapes and other scenes. I also made cabinets with materials provided by our teacher and the authorities.”