GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, CUBA— The five Taliban commanders who were exchanged for Bowe Bergdahl – a U.S. soldier who deserted his post in Afghanistan and was captured by the Taliban shortly after doing so – have resumed “threatening activities,” after being released to Qatar from Guantánamo Bay last year, according to a new House Armed Services Committee report.
“Some of the Taliban Five have engaged in threatening activities since being transferred to Qatar,” the report said.
The Taliban Five – Mohammad Fazl, Mohammed Nabi, Abdul Haq Wasiq, Mullah Norullah Nori, and Khairullah Khairkhwa – were freed from Guantánamo in exchange for Bergdahl.
Mohammed Fazl is one of the first freed Guantanamo detainees to be retained from Afghanistan, accused by the UN of committing war crimes, and suspected of taking part in the slaughter of thousands of Shiite Muslims.
Mohammad Nabi, the former chief of Taliban security, arranged cooperative offenses with Al Qaeda, according to declassified files.
Abdul Haq Wasiq, a deputy to the deceased Taliban chief, Mullah Omar, was one of the top intelligence officials for the jihadi leader. He arranged training with top Al Qaeda operatives.
Mullah Norullah Nori is a senior Taliban commander who is also wanted by the UN for war crimes, and also took part in the suspected mass killing campaign against Shiites.
Khairullah Khairkhwa, a Taliban commander, has ties to the Ayatollah’s regime in Tehran. He was reportedly trusted by Taliban chief Mullah Omar to negotiate ties with Iran.
The committee report maintained that President Obama took the action unilaterally without the consent of Congress. The Taliban commanders were informed that they were being sent to Qatar before Congress even knew about the impending deal, according to the report.
President Obama dispatched several senior White House officials to Qatar to negotiate the release of Bergdahl, the report documents, with Doha acting as an intermediary between the Taliban – which set up a “political” office there – and the United States. The Obama White House’s unilateral secret negotiations with the Taliban, a jihadi terrorist organization, disturbed a bipartisan sector of Congress, the House Committee report said.
When the Taliban commanders arrived in Qatar, they were greeted by both the public and officials as heroes, according to video that surfaced following their arrival in Doha.
The House report makes clear that several members of Congress expressed concerns that the Taliban commanders would eventually return to the battlefield. In fact, the jihadis were not cleared for release by a review board because they posed too great a threat for recidivism.
The House Committee charges the Obama Administration’s unilateral action as having been in violation of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2014. “This decision [to unilaterally transfer the Taliban commanders to Qatar] clearly violated the law,” the report stated.
“Continued detention” was recommended for the ‘Taliban Five’ following an Executive Order Task Force (EOTF) review, the report noted. And transfer of detainees who a review board agrees still pose a threat to the United States sets a dangerous precedent for the transfer of future detainees, the House Committee said in the report.
Moreover, the White House failed to prevent against “the ongoing national security risks posed by the Taliban 5” and their transfer to Qatar, the committee report adds.
An Intelligence Committee statement to the President warning of the Taliban 5’s reengagement in threatening activities is quoted in the report.
“Despite the current restrictions of the [Memorandum Of Understanding], it is clear… that the five former detainees have participated in activities that threaten U.S. and coalition personnel and are counter to U.S. national security interests–not unlike their activities before they were detained on the battlefield.,” the Intelligence Committee statement said.
“At least three of the five Taliban leaders… have tried to plug back into their old terror networks,” the Committee adds, quoting a report.
And “there are indications that Qatar is eager to have the Taliban Five depart,” the Committee report adds. If the Taliban Five leave (or have already left) Qatar, there is virtually no measure in place to track the former Guantanamo detainees, or prevent them from re-emerging on the battlefield.