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

(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.