Four of the five Guantanamo detainees released in exchange for former U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, by former President Barack Obama in 2014, now hold senior positions in the Taliban-led interim government in Afghanistan.
According to TOLOnews, the newly formed Taliban government appointed Khairullah Khairkhwa, Norullah Noori, Abdul Haq Wasiq, and Mohammad Fazl to leadership positions. All four were released in a 2014 deal between the Obama administration and the Taliban to free Bergdahl, who had been held prisoner by the Taliban since 2009, New York Post reported.
Despite the assessments recommending “continued detention” for the five, president Barack Obama approved a deal that freed the detainees from Gitmo in exchange for the release of Bergdahl, who was arrested by the Taliban after wandering away from an observation post in Paktika province in June 2009.
On Tuesday, Sept. 7, the Taliban announced that the four members of the so-called “Taliban Five” had joined the new government. They are Acting Director of Intelligence Abdul Haq Wasiq, Acting Minister of Borders and Tribal Affairs Norullah Noori, Deputy Defense Minister Mohammad Fazl, and Acting Minister of Information and Culture Khairullah Khairkhah. Last month, Mohammad Nabi Omari, the fifth member of the Taliban Five, was appointed governor of eastern Khost province, according to the DailyMail.
Wasiq “utilized his office to support [al Qaeda] and to assist Taliban personnel elude capture,” according to assessments written by Guantanamo Bay leadership in 2008. That information was later made public by WikiLeaks, and “was central to the Taliban’s efforts to form alliances with other Islamic fundamentalist groups to fight alongside the Taliban against U.S. and Coalition forces” in the early days of the Afghanistan war.
Fazl was claimed to have had “operational associations with significant al Qaeda and other extremist personnel,” according to the same assessments.
Fazl and Noori, who served as governors of two northern Afghan provinces during the Taliban government, are accused of ordering ethnic Hazara, Tajik, and Uzbek people to be massacred in Mazar-i-Sharif in 1998.
According to the 2008 assessments, Khairkhah, who helped found the Taliban in 1994, was involved in “meetings with Iranian officials seeking to support hostilities against U.S. and Coalition Forces” after the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan. In addition, between 1999 and 2001, he was the governor of western Herat province, and U.S. military leadership discovered that he was known as “one of the major opium drug lords in western Afghanistan.”
Rep. Mike Waltz, a former Green Beret who served in Afghanistan, expressed concerns that former Guantanamo Bay detainees will hold crucial positions.
“I have déjà vu knowing it’s the same national security team in place now that then “exchanged” such high-value terrorists for traitor Bowe Bergdahl,’ he told DailyMail.com.
“I personally led searches for Bergdahl, and soldiers in other units lost their lives in search of him.
“Seeing these former Guantanamo prisoners now in charge of a terrorist state that will once again threaten the homeland is a slap in the face to every veteran, gold star family, and victims of 9/11.
“Despite this, the Biden Administration has still yet to learn appeasement has serious national security consequences and we are more unsafe now as a result of this disastrous withdrawal.”