Taliban Celebrates Biden Release of Al Qaeda-Linked Guantánamo Bay Detainee

This file photo taken on August 26, 2004 shows a detainee being escorted by military polic

The Taliban jihadist organization and the U.S. Department of Defense confirmed on Friday the release of Afghan national Assadullah Haroon Gul, also known as “Asadullah Haroon al-Afghani,” from the military facility at Guantánamo Bay after 15 years.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said Haroon’s release was the product of “positive interaction” with the United States and diplomatic engagement with Qatar, which hosted the Taliban’s “political office” throughout its 20-year war with America while it did not govern Afghanistan. Haroon was one of two Afghan nationals still imprisoned at the military detention center and Mujahid appeared to indicate that the Taliban would work to convince the administration of President Joe Biden to release the other.

Biden’s decision to break a Trump-era agreement with the Taliban and extend the 20-year Afghan war from its originally agreed-upon May 2021 deadline into August resulted in the collapse of the legitimate government of that country almost immediately after U.S. troops withdrew. The Taliban reached Kabul, the national capital, on August 15, prompting then-President Ashraf Ghani to flee and leave the country in the Sunni jihadist group’s hands.

While no government has formally recognized the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan, it enjoys uncontested control of the country and maintains unofficial diplomatic discussions with the United Nations and many member nations, including the United States.

“As a result of the efforts of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan [the Taliban] and its direct and positive interaction with the United States, one of the remaining two detainees, Asadullah Haroon, was released from Guantanamo prison,” Mujahid announced in a statement. “IEA, [sic] considers this as its duty to release Afghans detained in other countries and strives to ensure that no Afghan remains oppressed in any country of the world.”

“We are currently in contact with some of the countries where Afghans have been detained and efforts are underway to release them soon,” Mujahid said, thanking Qatar, but not America, for releasing Haroon.

Mujahid also published photos of a man appearing to be Haroon meeting with senior Taliban leaders and appearing in good health.

The Department of Defense confirmed the release and that Haroon was the same person referred to in various reports as Asadullah al-Afghani and Asadullah Haroon Gul.

“The Department of Defense, in coordination with other USG departments, transferred Mr. Gul in accordance with the U.S. District of Columbia’s order granting his Writ of Habeas Corpus, ruling the United States no longer has a legal basis to justify the continued detention of Mr. Gul,” the agency explained in a statement. “The United States thanks the Government of Qatar for its assistance in this matter.”

The now-defunct Afghan military detained Haroon in 2017 on the grounds that he was “a commander in Hezb-i-Islami Gulbuddin, a paramilitary group then allied with al-Qaeda,” the Washington Post reported last year. The D.C. newspaper referred to Haroon as a “low value” detainee given that the group that he was allegedly a member of was now an active participant in the U.S.-backed Afghan government. Al-Qaeda is closely tied to the Taliban, which was the pretext the government of the United States used to invade Afghanistan and overthrow its first government in 2001.

The Post, citing the prosecutor on Haroon’s case, accused the now-former detainee of training with a group tied to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, accused of organizing the September 11, 2001, jihadist attacks on the United States, as well as offering “substantial support” to al-Qaeda.

Haroon regularly wrote opinion pieces while detained at Guantánamo Bay. In 2020, Newsweek published an article appearing to be by Haroon – under the byline of a man with the same name and using a photo matching the images published by the Taliban on Friday – enthusiastically supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and George Floyd, a Minnesota man who died during an incident with police, triggering nationwide riots.

Breitbart News has reached out to Newsweek to confirm that Haroon is the same individual published in the magazine but has yet to reach out at press time.

“The killing of George Floyd has reverberated around the world. Sitting in my cell at Guantánamo, I was watching Afghan News and even there, so far from America, they showed a picture saying ‘I can’t breathe,'” Haroon wrote. “When people struggle peacefully for justice, that can only be good.”

“The U.S. has become desensitized to state violence, provided it happens out of sight and is done to brown-skinned people. Guantánamo—a GULAG for Muslims, run by America on foreign soil—is the ultimate expression of this,” the article continued.

The article concluded that the Marxist Black Lives Matter movement gave him “hope.”

“It will be like the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s, and I believe it will have positive results. America’s business is not my business but if human beings anywhere are struggling for justice, I must support them even from my cell in Guantánamo Bay,” it read. “Perhaps my brothers and sisters marching in the streets will turn their eyes on this island prison, and witness our common cause.”

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) was among the first to comment on Haroon’s release, condemning the Biden administration for handing him to the Taliban.

“The terrorist organization that now controls Afghanistan cannot and will not ensure Gul, or any future detainees who are released, will not return to the battlefield and potentially kill Americans or other innocent civilians,” Rubio asserted.

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