The inmate population at the U.S. military prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, once stood at nearly 700 but has since dwindled to 40.
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“I want the countries to take back the captured ISIS fighters,” Trump added, noting that many of these captives come from European nations, including Germany and France. “And if they don’t take them back, we’re going to probably put them at the border, and then they’ll have to capture them again.”
Approximately 2,000 fighters are being held by the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Defense Forces in northeastern Syria with assistance from U.S. military forces. Trump demanded at a separate White House event Friday that their home countries “take those people back, put them on trial, and do what they have to do to them.”
While campaigning in 2016, Trump promised he would send more prisoners to Guantánamo Bay. “We’re gonna load it up with some bad dudes, believe me,” he told a rally in Sparks, Nev. “We’re gonna load it up.”
But no new prisoners have been sent to the Guantánamo lockup since the final year of the George W. Bush administration. An inmate population there of nearly 700 at its peak dwindled to 41 by the time Trump took office. With the transfer last year of one of those captives, the number now stands at 40.
He did make clear, though, that he is not contemplating Guantánamo as an alternative destination for those captives.