Dec. 30, 2009 — -- One of the two former Guantanamo prisoners who assumed leadership roles in al Qaeda of Yemen turned himself in to the Saudi government in Februrary, 2009 and therefore could not have played a direct role in organizing the attempt to bring down Northwest flight 253, U.S. government officials said Wednesday.
A second former Guantanamo detainee remains in the leadership ranks of the Yemen group, the officials said.
ABCNews.com reported Monday in error that former Guantanamo prisoner #333, Muhamad Attik al-Harbi, was one of four leaders of the al Qaeda group which claimed responsibility for the attempted bombing.
Al-Harbi appeared in a propaganda tape released by the group in January 2009. According to published reports, he surrendered to Saudi security forces one month later in February 2009, well before the August arrival in Yemen of accused underwear bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.
According to the group's own statements and U.S. officials, the second former Guantanamo prisoner, Said Ali Shari, continues as a commander of the al Qaeda group, which U.S. officials say poses the most direct, operational threat to U.S. and Western citizens.