In one of the least surprising headlines of the year, the Military Times tells us that the five members of the Taliban that President Obama released from Gitmo in order to get back disgraced deserter Bowe Bergdahl…have rejoined the insurgent group in Afghanistan. This according to Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Majuahid, who announced their return on Tuesday.
While the Taliban says the released prisoners will now be among those trying to negotiate for a peace pact with the Afghan government, it is not outside the realm of possibility that these battle-worn terrorists will soon be killing U.S. military personnel on the battlefield.
“The Taliban are bringing back their old generation, which means the Taliban have not changed their thinking or their leadership,” political analyst Haroun Mir told Military Times. “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.”
Obama chose to release the prisoners into the custody of our allies in Oman when the Taliban agreed to release Bergdahl from imprisonment simultaneously. This drew enormous criticism at the time, with Obama being seen as someone who had gone back on a central U.S. tenet: Never negotiate with terrorists. That criticism only grew because of how Bergdahl came to be captured; he had deserted his post in the Army, gone wandering off the base, and wound up in Taliban custody for the next five years. THIS was worth releasing five dangerous Islamic radicals? Skepticism abounded, even within the military.
As Military Times reports, these aren’t exactly Boy Scouts:
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. 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.
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. Khairkhwa also had a friendship with former president Hamid Karzai.
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.
The terrible decisions of the Obama years continue to come back and haunt us.