Former President Barack Obama exchanged five Guantanamo detainees for former U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in 2014. Now, four of the five detainees hold senior positions in the Taliban-created government.
Fox News reports, according to the Afghan television network TOLOnews, the Taliban-formed government gave leadership positions to the four men, “all of whom were released in a 2014 deal between the Obama administration and the Taliban to free Bergdahl, whom the Taliban had held as a prisoner since 2009.”
One of the men, Abdul Haq Wasiq, previously served as the Taliban’s intelligence director prior to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. He has reprised that position in which U.S. intelligence agencies determined Wasiq had close ties to al Qaeda at the time.
The Taliban already announced at the end of August that another former Guantanamo Bay Naval Base (GTMO) detainee with close ties to al Qaeda, Mohammad Nabi Omari, would govern Afghanistan’s Khost Province.
Thomas Joscelyn, a senior fellow for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), announced yet another detainee, Mohammad Fazl, will also return to his role as deputy defense minister. “U.S. officials found that Fazl worked with senior al Qaeda personnel, including Abdel Hadi al Iraqi, one of Osama bin Laden’s chief lieutenants,” Joscelyn wrote in a tweet. “Al Iraqi is still held at Guantanamo.”
In 2016, the U.S. put a $10 million bounty on Sirajuddin Haqqani, the head of the militant group Haqqani Network. Haqqani now serves as the acting interior minister for the Taliban government. Since 2016, Haqqani has served as one of two deputy leaders of the Taliban.
Nebraska Republican Senator Ben Sasse released a statement Tuesday criticizing the Biden administration. “President Biden still clings to an insane fantasy that the Taliban is kinder and gentler. It’s nonsense. Haqqani is the Taliban’s new interior minister for precisely the same reason the FBI’s got a $5 million bounty on his head: he’s a bloodthirsty terrorist. He’s armed, dangerous, and running a country we just abandoned.”