In yet another one of former President Barack Obama’s foreign policy disasters, the five members of the Taliban who he sprung from Guantanamo Bay to pull off a controversial deal are back in action.
Back in 2014, Obama put his seal of approval on the swap of the GITMO terrorists for U.S. Army soldier Bowe Bergdahl, who deserted his unit and was captured by the enemy and held him in captivity for nearly five years.
At the time, it was hailed by the media as a work of genius and diplomacy despite warnings from many critics who predicted that the five prisoners would quickly rejoin the war on America.
The recently deceased Senator John McCain was among those who decried the wisdom of Obama’s public relations gimmick.
In a statement, McCain asked about “what precise steps are being taken to ensure that these vicious and violent Taliban extremists never return to the fight against the United States and our partners.”
Instead of assurances, Obama held a Rose Garden ceremony to burnish his precious legacy as a peacemaker in an election year.
Now, the critics have been proven correct as the freed five rejoined the Taliban in Qatar.
— Military Times (@MilitaryTimes) October 31, 2018
Via The Military Times, “5 freed from Gitmo in exchange for Bergdahl join Taliban’s political office in Qatar”:
Five members of the Afghan Taliban who were freed from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay in exchange for captured American Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl have joined the insurgent group’s political office in Qatar, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said Tuesday.
They will now be among Taliban representatives negotiating for peace in Afghanistan, a sign some negotiators in Kabul say indicates the Taliban’s desire for a peace pact.
Others fear the five, all of whom were close to the insurgent group’s founder and hard-line leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, bring with them the same ultra-conservative interpretation of Islam that characterized the group’s five-year rule that ended in 2001 with the U.S.-led invasion.
“The Taliban are bringing back their old generation, which means the Taliban have not changed their thinking or their leadership,” said Haroun Mir, political analyst in the Afghan capital.
Taliban leaders insist that the five are integral to working out a peace deal, but their history is concerning to many.
Additional details from the Associated Press:
“These people are respected among all the Taliban,” said Mujahed. “Their word carries weight with the Taliban leadership and the mujahedeen.”
But there are some among the five who have a disturbing past.
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.
Obama had numerous foreign policy blunders in the Middle East, ranging from overthrowing Muammar Gaddafi, the Arab Spring, Benghazi and the subsequent rise of ISIS.
But if these five terrorists end up being involved in the death of American soldiers or innocent civilians, it will cement his dismal legacy in the region.