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Qatari held in US since 2001 returns home

It is unclear why the US has released Ali bin Kahlah al-Marri before end of his 15-year sentence for conspiracy to support terrorism
Ali bin Kahlah al-Marri had been in US custody since December 2001 (Twitter/@zaidbenjamin)

A Qatari who was held in the United States since 2001, part of the time as an "enemy combatant", has been released and returned to Doha on Saturday, a family member told AFP.

Ali bin Kahlah al-Marri - called "a present and grave danger to US national security" in a 2003 presidential order signed by then-president George W Bush -  was in good health and had been welcomed at Hamad International Airport by family and friends, a nephew said.

Marri, who is a US resident, had been serving a 15-year sentence after pleading guilty in 2009 to one count of conspiracy to provide material support to a terrorist organisation.

Prior to that, he had been held by the authorities for eight years, initially on credit card fraud charges and then in solitary confinement for six years after being declared an "enemy combatant" and put in military custody.

"Enemy combatant" is the term used by the George W Bush administration to refer to alleged members of al-Qaeda.

Details on where Marri was held and the terms under which he was released were not immediately available.

His brother, Jarallah, was the only Qatari prisoner held at Guantanamo Bay until he was released and returned to his home country in 2008 under unclear circumstances, according to historian Andy Worthington, author of The Guantanamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America's Illegal Prison.

Worthington wrote in the magazine CounterPunch that Ali bin Khalh al-Marri was held in isolation on US soil without charge or trial from June 2003 until at least 2008.

On Saturday, his nephew, Saleh Kahla, said Marri had received a joyous welcome.

"Thank God his health and spirits are very excellent, His spirits were better than ours as we did not expect him to be in such good state."

Marri, who is married and has five children, originally went to the United States to study.

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