As news of Obama’s swap of five Guantanamo Bay prisoners for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl continues to percolate, the enormity of this action is most clearly grasped by understanding that the Gitmo prisoners were the “top five Taliban commanders” held by the United States, and the soldier was a Taliban sympathizer who deserted his unit and went AWOL in 2009.
According to The Long War Journal, one of the five Taliban commanders released–Mullah Khairullah Khairkhwa–was “a key intermediary between the Iranian regime and the Taliban after 9/11.” He was able to secure Iranian aid in the Taliban’s war against the U.S.
Another of the five–Mullah Mohammad Fazl–“was one of the Taliban’s most experienced commanders prior to his capture in November 2001.”
In 2008, Joint Task Force Guantanamo (JTF-Gitmo) warned that if Fazl were released, he would likely rejoin “hostilities against U.S. and Coalition forces in Afghanistan.”
Another commander among the five released was Mohammad Nabi Omari. In 2008 “JTF-GITMO analysts recommended Nabi be kept in “continued detention” by the Department of Defense, as he “was a senior Taliban official who served in multiple leadership roles.”
These commanders and others were released to gain the subsequent release of Bergdahl, whom The New York Times reports deserted his fellow soldiers “sometime after midnight on June 30, 2009,” leaving behind “a note” explaining that “he had become disillusioned with the Army.”
A “furious search for Sergeant Bergdahl” followed. It resulted in “the deaths of at least two soldiers and possibly six others in the area.”
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