The five Taliban commanders that former President Barack Obama freed in exchange for United States Army deserter Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl are now back in action as Islamic terrorists.
Despite warnings that swapping terrorists for Bergdahl would end up in the Taliban leaders waging jihad against American once again, the Obama administration continued its controversial deal to release the “Gitmo 5” from the high-security U.S. military prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba – which Obama attempted to completely evacuate by the end of his last term in office.
Warning come true
Conservative critics sounding the alarm back in 2014 – that the then-imprisoned terrorists would return on the scene as jihadists – were condemned as bigots for opposing the swap.
“[Those warning that the released Taliban prisoners would return to Taliban leadership] were mocked and vilified as ‘Islamophobes,’” recalled Jihad Watch Director Robert Spencer.
And the prediction came true yesterday, as announced by the Islamic terrorist group.
“On Tuesday, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid announced the five released from Guantanamo Bay in 2014 have joined the group’s political office in Qatar,” WND reported.
Even though the Taliban claims that the released Gitmo 5 will engage in noncombative roles with the terrorist group, skeptics are quick to point out that they have not severed from their jihadist ways targeting America.
“They will now be among Taliban representatives negotiating for peace in Afghanistan – a sign some negotiators in Kabul say indicates the Taliban’s desire for a peace pact,” The Associated Press (AP) reported in a Military Times post. “Others fear the five – all of whom were close to the insurgent group's founder and hard-line leader Mullah Mohammed Omar – bring with them the same ultra-conservative interpretation of Islam that characterized the group's five-year rule that ended in 2001 with the U.S.-led invasion.”
These fears were corroborated by political analyst, Haroun Mir, who is based in Afghan’s capital city of Kabul.
"The Taliban are bringing back their old generation, which means the Taliban have not changed their thinking or their leadership," Mir stressed, according to AP. "What we are more worried about is if tomorrow, the Taliban say, 'We are ready to negotiate,' who will represent Kabul? That is the big challenge because the government is so divided – not just ideologically, but on ethnic lines."
Similar to how many Americans have skeptically viewed Iran’s intentions in its nuclear talks with the U.S., many are wary of the Taliban’s motive behind its so-called “peace” talks with Afghan officials.
“Efforts to find a peaceful end to Afghanistan's protracted war have accelerated since Washington appointed Afghan-American Zalmay Khalilzad as envoy to find a peaceful end to America's longest war – which has already cost the U.S. more than $900 billion,” AP’s Kathy Gannon informed. “But Mohammed Ismail Qasimyar, a member of a government peace council, warned Washington against negotiating peace terms with the Taliban, saying Khalilzad’s only job is to set the stage for direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban – something the insurgents have so far refused, calling the government a U.S. puppet.”
Taliban on the move, again?
In addition to the Gitmo 5 returning to Taliban leadership, the jihadist group made alarming news again with the recent report that it has also managed to free another one of its terrorist leaders from prison – this one in Pakistan.
“In an unexpected development, Pakistan also bowed to a long-standing Afghan Taliban demand that it release its senior leader, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who had been in jail in Pakistan since 2010,” Gannon noted. “At the time, Baradar was reportedly jailed after bypassing Pakistan to open independent peace talks with Hamid Karzai, who was then Afghanistan's president.”
However, Baradar made his intentions clear that he has visions of an insurrection in Afghanistan.
“Baradar's release followed Khalilzad's first visit to Pakistan since being appointed Washington's peace envoy,” Gannon continued. “Baradar issued an audio message after his release to the Taliban, [and] the Pashto-language message – heard by an Associated Press reporter – seemed to indicate he was preparing for a role in the insurgent movement moving forward.”
A terrorist-turned Afghan politician insists that the Taliban has peaceful intentions, but many are wary of the assurances of a former loyalist to the Islamic terrorist group.
“Hakim Mujahed – a former Taliban member who is now also a member of the Afghan government peace council – said the presence of the five former Guantanamo prisoners in the Taliban's Qatar office is indicative of the Taliban's resolve to find a peace deal,” Gannon pointed out. “He said the stature of the five within the insurgent movement will make a peace deal palatable to the rank and file – many of whom have resisted talks believing a military victory was within their grasp.”
The ex-terrorist still appears to have an allegiance to Taliban through his confidence in its so-called push for peace.
"These people are respected among all the Taliban," Mujahed insisted, according to AP. "Their word carries weight with the Taliban leadership and the mujahedeen."
Watch out for the Gitmo 5
Given their history, peace is one of the last things the five Gitmo prisoners released by Obama have on their mind today as they step back into Taliban leadership roles.
“Human Rights Watch accused Mohammed Fazl – the former Taliban army chief arrested in 2002 – of overseeing the deaths of thousands of minority Shiites in 2000,” Gannon recounted. “The massacre outraged the world and followed the killing the year before of an estimated 2,000 young ethnic Pashtuns in northern Afghanistan by Taliban rivals.”
An unsavory past also follows one of Fazl’s partners in jihad.
“Another of the five is Khairullah Khairkhwa – a former governor of Herat province who was close to both Taliban founder Mullah Omar and al- Qaida leader Osama bin Laden,” Gannon added. “Khairkhwa also had a friendship with former president Hamid Karzai.”
Disturbing track records are also found when examining the histories of the other Taliban terrorists.
“The others include Abdul Haq Wasiq, deputy intelligence minister, Mullah Norullah Nori, once described as the most significant Taliban leader held at Guantanamo Bay because of his particularly close relationship with Mullah Omar, who fought U.S.-led coalition forces in northern Afghanistan’s Mazar-e-Sharif and Mohammad Nabi Omari, a Taliban communications officer,” Gannon informed. “All five are from southern Afghanistan, the Taliban's heartland.”
Months before the Gitmo 5 rose back to their positions of prominence for the Taliban’s political office in Doha, Qatar, officials with the Islamic terrorist group have been in talks with U.S.
“Taliban officials met with American diplomat Alice Wells in July and had a follow-on meeting in October with the State Department’s special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad,” Task & Purpose announced. “Talks between the two sides are preliminary, although both have expressed the hope that some negotiated settlement of the Afghan war can be reached.”
Plans for direct negotiations between the terrorist group and the U.S. military are on the table, but with the Gitmo 5 joining the Taliban’s “peace” team, many are wary about how productive – and how far – such talks can really go.
“The top American commander in Afghanistan said in July that he was open to the idea of directly speaking with the Taliban,” Task & Purpose Editor-in-Chief Paul Szoldra – a former U.S. Marine infantryman – recalled. “Although some told AP they see the use of the five as a sign the Taliban desires peace, it does introduce some awkwardness into the equation: Besides being Guantanamo alumni, all were considered by the Pentagon to be ‘high risk’ detainees.”
Terrorists for traitor …
Each of the five were freed in 2014 via negotiations carried out by Obama officials, who let terrorists go in exchange for an Army deserter and traitor to the U.S.
“Bergdahl – who had been held in Taliban custody since 2009 when he wandered off a U.S. army base – was given a dishonorable discharge last year and fined $1,000 on charges of desertion and misbehavior,” Gannon noted.
Before knowing that Bergdahl willfully abandoned his station to join Islamic militants, precious lives, money and time were expended to “free” him from the enemy.
“Considerable resources were poured into finding Bergdahl, and soldiers in his platoon claimed there was an increase in attacks against U.S. forces in Paktika Province after his disappearance,” WND reported. “Retired general Michael Flynn blamed the deaths of six soldiers on the search for Bergdahl, although the Army’s investigations did not report that any of the slain soldiers were part of the search.”
One member from Bergdahl’s platoon in the U.S. Army, Cody Full, holds his former fellow soldier responsible for flagrantly disregarding the safety and security of his fellow stationed troops.
“[Bergdahl] knowingly deserted and put thousands of people in danger because he did,” Full argued, according to WND. “We swore to an oath, and we upheld ours – he did not.”