Taliban leader was freed from Guantanamo in 2014 swap by Obama

When then-President Barack Obama launched 5 Taliban commanders from the Guantanamo Bay jail in exchange for an American deserter in 2014, he assured a cautious public the damaging enemy combatants can be transferred to Qatar and stored from inflicting any bother in Afghanistan.

In reality, they have been left free to engineer Sunday’s sacking of Kabul.

Soon after gaining their freedom, a few of the infamous Taliban Five pledged to return to battle Americans in Afghanistan and made contacts with energetic Taliban militants there. But the Obama-Biden administration turned a blind eye to the disturbing intelligence experiences, and it wasn’t lengthy earlier than the freed detainees used Qatar as a base to kind a regime in exile.

Eventually, they have been acknowledged by Western diplomats as official representatives of the Taliban throughout latest “peace” talks.

Earlier this yr, considered one of them, Khairullah Khairkhwa, truly sat throughout the desk from President Biden’s envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, in Moscow, the place Khairkhwa was a part of the official Taliban delegation that negotiated the ultimate phrases of the US withdrawal. The retreat cleared a path for the Taliban to retake energy after 20 years.

“I started jihad to remove foreign forces from my country and establish an Islamic government, and jihad will continue until we reach that goal through a political agreement,” Khairkhwa stated on the summit.

After raiding the presidential palace in Kabul, a bunch of armed Taliban fighters advised Al Jazeera that they have been arranging to carry again their Gitmo-paroled management from Qatar upon securing the capital. One unidentified fighter, who blasted America for “oppressing our people for 20 years,” claimed he had additionally been locked up on the Guantanamo Bay facility. It’s extra proof Gitmo catch-and-release insurance policies facilitated the autumn of Afghanistan to the enemy Washington vowed to crush after 9/11.

Taliban fighters patrolling the city of Ghazni as the group continued to take over Afghanistan on August 12, 2021
Taliban fighters patrolling town of Ghazni because the group continued to take over Afghanistan on August 12, 2021.
EPA/NAWID TANHA

The mastermind of the regime change is former detainee Khairkhwa, the Taliban mullah whom Obama launched from Gitmo regardless that the Pentagon categorized him as too harmful to launch.

Earlier this yr, Khairkhwa assured the administration that the Taliban wouldn’t launch a spring army offensive if Biden dedicated to eradicating all remaining American troops. He additionally promised to not retaliate in opposition to any Afghans who labored with the US army or the US-backed authorities in Kabul. But Khairkhwa confirmed no indicators of regret or rehabilitation inside Gitmo — if something, he’s in all probability extra embittered to the United States. Why would they imagine him?

Reports popping out of Kandahar and Kabul point out the extremists have already damaged their phrase. Taliban thugs have began a reign of terror in opposition to individuals who cooperated with Westerners. Guided by a “kill list,” they’re going door-to-door to punish their enemies.

Khairullah Khairkhwa and four other leaders of the Taliban were released from prison in Guantanamo Bay in 2014 in exchange for Bowe Bergdahl.
Khairullah Khairkhwa and 4 different leaders of the Taliban have been launched from jail in Guantanamo Bay in 2014 in trade for Bowe Bergdahl.
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Special envoy Khalilzad satisfied the White House the US-backed authorities wouldn’t collapse and the Taliban wouldn’t take over — regardless that Khairkhwa made it clear he and his fellow mullahs sought to reestablish strict Islamic rule with out outdoors meddling.

Mullah Khairkhwa beforehand served because the Taliban’s minister of inside in Afghanistan, the place he oversaw enforcement of brutal Islamist punishments, together with beheadings and stonings. After 9/11, he was arrested in Pakistan and despatched to Gitmo in 2002. The Pentagon accused him of intently associating with Osama bin Laden and bin Laden’s al Qaeda henchmen.

Twelve years later, Obama sprung Khairkhwa from jail together with 4 different prime Taliban leaders in trade for the Taliban releasing US Army Sgt. Robert “Bowe” Bergdahl, who was captured after deserting his submit in Afghanistan. Khairkhwa and his fellow parolees, who have been instantly flown to Qatar, have been the one “forever prisoners” launched with out being cleared by the Gitmo parole board.

Former President Barack Obama celebrating the return of the "POW" Bergdahl with his parents at the White House.
Former President Barack Obama celebrating the return of the “POW” Bergdahl along with his dad and mom on the White House.
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

Upon his return, Obama celebrated Bergdahl as a heroic “POW,” a designation the Pentagon by no means gave him. At the weird Rose Garden ceremony, throughout which Bergdahl’s father praised Allah, Obama asserted: “We’re committed to winding down the war in Afghanistan and closing Gitmo.”

But public opinion rapidly turned against Bergdahl because the info of his disappearance and seize turned recognized. He finally was court-martialed and pleaded responsible to desertion and misbehavior earlier than the enemy. In 2017, he was sentenced to a dishonorable discharge. Last yr, the US army’s prime appeals courtroom upheld the conviction in opposition to him.

Several of his fellow troopers have been seriously injured during search-and-rescue missions launched to search out him in Afghanistan. During Bergdahl’s five-year Taliban captivity, the Taliban turned extra correct and lethal focusing on US convoys and troops.

Bergdahl would eventually plead guilty to desertion.
Bergdahl would ultimately plead responsible to desertion.
AFP/Getty Images

It’s not clear if then-Vice President Biden was absolutely on board with Obama’s controversial prisoner trade. But in a reversal of Trump administration coverage, Biden has restarted Obama’s program to launch Gitmo detainees as a part of a renewed push to shut the jail.

Last month, the president launched his first prisoner — accused terrorist Abdul Latif Nasser — leaving the variety of remaining detainees at 39. Ten others have been cleared for launch, whereas nonetheless others have appealed to Biden via their pro-bono protection attorneys to make sure their launch, regardless of the danger of them returning to militant actions just like the Taliban Five.

If Obama and Biden had left the 5 Taliban thugs to rot in Cuba, Kabul greater than seemingly wouldn’t be back in the clutches of the Taliban right now. And perhaps Americans wouldn’t have sacrificed greater than 2,400 troops and $1 trillion in useless.

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