FILE – In this photo confirmed by U.S. military officials, flags fly at half mast at Camp Justicia, Aug. 29, 2021, at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Two Pakistani brothers held by the United States at the Guantanamo Bay detention center for two decades were released and returned home Friday to be reunited with their families, authorities said.

Pakistan arrested Abdul and Mohammed Rabbani on suspicion of links to the al-Qaeda network in 2002 in Karachi, the southern port and the country’s largest city. That same year, Ramzi Binalshibh, one of the main leaders of Al-Qaeda, was arrested by the Pakistani spy agency on information from the CIA.

The Rabbani brothers were released months after 75-year-old Pakistani Saifullah Paracha.

The Foreign Ministry issued a statement on Friday regarding the release of the brothers.

“We are pleased that these Pakistani citizens have finally been reunited with their families,” the ministry said, adding that it had “coordinated an extensive inter-agency process to facilitate the repatriation” of the two brothers.

Hours earlier, Pakistani lawmaker Mushtaq Ahmed Khan, chairman of the human rights committee in the upper house of Pakistan’s parliament, tweeted that the Rabbani had landed at Islamabad airport.

“There have been no trials, no legal proceedings and no charges against them. Congratulations on your release. Thank you Pakistani Senate,” Khan tweeted.

Khan later told The Associated Press that the brothers were on their way to Karachi, the capital of the southern province of Sindh, where their families live.

The release of the brothers was the latest move by the United States to empty and close its detention center at Guantanamo Bay. The government of former President George W. Bush created it to detain extremist suspects after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States.

US officials accused the brothers of helping members of the al-Qaeda network with housing and other logistical support.

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