Latest Gitmo recidivist statistics released

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) has released new summary statistics on the recidivism of former Guantanamo detainees. At present, 167 ex-Gitmo detainees are either “confirmed” or “suspected” of reengaging in “terrorist or insurgent activities” after their release, according to the ODNI’s latest estimate. The ODNI’s summary is based on intelligence available as of December 2011.

Of the 167 former detainees included in the estimate, 95 are “confirmed” recidivists, and the remaining 72 are “suspected.” So far, 599 detainees have been either transferred or released from Guantanamo, meaning that the estimated recidivism rate now stands at 27.9% — or a little more than 1 out of every 4 ex-detainees.

The ODNI’s latest figures represent a slight increase from the last estimate published by the ODNI in December 2010. The ODNI claimed at the time that 150 former detainees were either “confirmed” or “suspected” recidivists. That figure was more than double the estimates given by the Defense Department less than two years earlier.

In June 2008, the Department of Defense reported that 37 former detainees were “confirmed or suspected” of returning to terrorism. On Jan. 13, 2009 — seven months later — Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said that number had climbed to 61. As of April 2009, the DoD found that same metric had risen further to 74 — exactly double the Pentagon’s estimate just 11 months before.

In February 2010, President Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan, confirmed that the estimated number of recidivists had increased to 20 percent. At that recidivism rate, and based on the total number of detainee transfers at that time, more than 110 former Guantanamo detainees were on the US government’s recidivist list in early 2010.

The ODNI’s latest statistics, which were filed in compliance with the 2012 Intelligence Authorization Act, break down the number of ex-Gitmo detainees killed or recaptured.

Most of the confirmed and suspected recidivists are at large, but 68 of the 167 have been either killed or are in custody. Of these, 14 have been killed, while 54 have been detained abroad. The remaining 99 confirmed or suspected recidivists remain free.

The overwhelming majority of ex-Gitmo detainees included in the summary statistics – 162 out of 167 — were transferred or released during the Bush administration.

According to the ODNI, the number of recidivists transferred during the Obama years has remained the same since its December 2010 report. Just 5 of the confirmed (3) or suspected (2) recidivists were transferred by the Obama administration. The December 2010 estimate included the same overall figure, saying that just 2 confirmed and 3 suspected recidivists were transferred since President Obama was sworn in.

Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • mike merlo says:

    Could this be one of those “its the economy stupid,” moments? With no other job skills besides terrorist what is one to do.

  • Paul D says:

    How many are Saudi?

  • Eddie D. says:

    Are we supposed to be surprised by this?

  • Doug R says:

    Hopefully someone is keeping eyes on the 432 other “transferees”. As to the 167 recidivists just goes to show how history repeats; however there is no need to speed up the process.

  • Tom Milton says:

    I signed for the first 32 detainees released from GITMO while serving as SAO Chief in Pakistan. Within 3 months, we knew of three killed in Afghanistan and two others captured. Mind you, these were from the roughly half that the Paks did not detain in their own prisons upon their homecoming.

  • Brian says:

    To Mike Merlo:
    Islamist terrorism has nothing to do with economics. Islamism is a totalitarian ideology based upon certain tenants of the Islamic faith whose goal is to impose sharia law upon the entire world in the form of a global caliphate. Please read any of the numerous studies available which clearly show that Islamists are by and large well-educated, middle to upper-class individuals with University degrees (some with advanced degrees).

  • Doug R.: Rest assured, Attorney General Holder is “on it!”


Islamic state



Al shabaab

Boko Haram