5 Detainees Freed for Bergdahl Are...

...all ex-Taliban officials with ties to the organization

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 1, 2014 5:30 PM CDT
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(Newser) – A fair exchange? The five Guantanamo Bay prisoners swapped for US soldier Bowe Bergdahl were all senior Taliban commanders who had been off the battlefield for at least a decade, the Washington Post reports. Analysts say they retain influence in the Taliban and may return to the group after spending a mandated year in Qatar. The last time America released a top Taliban official from Gitmo—Mullah Abdul Qayyum Zakir, in 2007—he became the group's director of military operations in Afghanistan. NPR runs down details on the five released detainees:

  • Mullah Mohammad Fazl: A senior Taliban commander wanted for allegedly killing thousands of Shiites near Kabul between 1998 and 2001.
  • Mullah Norullah Noori: A senior Taliban military commander, he has governed two Afghan provinces and was wanted by the UN for war crimes. He "has remained a significant figure to Taliban supporters," according to an NPR/New York Times database of Gitmo prisoners.
  • Mohammad Nabi Omari: A top Taliban official with "strong operational ties" to the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, and al-Qaeda.
  • Khirullah Said Wali Khairkhwa: Also a top Taliban official, he was "directly associated" with Osama bin Laden and probably became an opium drug lord in Afghanistan to help fund the Taliban.
  • Abdul Haq Wasiq: A former Taliban deputy minister of intelligence, he helped the organization forge alliances with other fundamentalist groups to battle the US and coalition forces after 9/11.
See what the GOP says about the Bergdahl deal, and how Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel defends it.

This undated image provided by the U.S. Army shows Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.
This undated image provided by the U.S. Army shows Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.   (AP Photo/U.S. Army)
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