Here’s what happens when Taliban leaders are released

Defense Department

Five Guantanamo prisoners were released in exchange for American POW Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. From left: Khirullah Said Wali Khairkhwa, Mullah Mohammad Fazl, Mullah Norullah Noori, Abdul Haq Wasiq, and Mohammad Nabi Omari.

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  • @marcthiessen The five Taliban leaders Obama released will now take up where Mullah Zakir left off

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  • @marcthiessen Freeing these terrorists may have secured Bergdahl's release, but it has put many more US lives at risk

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  • @marcthiessen These freed terrorists will be welcomed back to the battlefield as jihadist heroes

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If anyone doubts that the five senior Taliban leaders President Obama released this weekend will return to the fight and kill more Americans, they need only look at what happened when the George W. Bush administration released a Taliban leader named Mullah Abdul Qayyum Zakir (a.k.a. Abdullah Ghulam Rasoul) in 2007.

Unlike the terrorists Obama just set free, Zakir was assessed by our military as only “medium risk” of returning to the fight. At Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Zakir pretended to be a low-ranking conscript and told officials he simply wanted to “go back home and join my family” and promised “I [have] never been America’s enemy and I never intend to be.”

But when he returned to Afghanistan, he quickly became one of America’s fiercest enemies, directly responsible for the deaths of U.S., coalition and Afghan forces. In 2009, Zakir was appointed as the Taliban’s “surge commander” in charge of countering Obama’s new strategy to deny the Taliban safe haven in southern Afghanistan. According to the Times of London, Zakir instituted a campaign of “increasingly sophisticated [roadside] explosives attacks” that killed British and U.S. forces as well as many Afghan civilians. He waged relentless war on the United States and presided over unspeakable atrocities before stepping down from military command in April. To this day, he remains a top member of the Taliban leadership council.

The five Taliban leaders Obama released will now take up where Zakir left off. According to our own military, they are all “high risk” to return to the fight. How dangerous are these men? Here is what the U.S. military says about them, according to their leaked assessments from Guantanamo Bay.

Mullah Norullah Noori is “one of the most significant former Taliban officials detained at JTF-GTMO.” He “led troops against US and Coalition forces” and “was directly subordinate to Taliban Supreme Leader Mullah Omar,” is “associated with members of al-Qaida” and is “wanted by the UN for possible war crimes.” Noori’s “brother is currently a Taliban commander conducting operations against US and Coalition forces,” and Noori “would likely join his brother if released.”

Mullah Mohammad Fazl, the Taliban’s deputy defense minister, is so senior in the Taliban hierarchy that he once threatened the Taliban’s supreme leader, Mullah Omar. Fazl has “operational associations with significant al-Qaida and other extremist personnel,” and “If released, [Fazl] would likely rejoin the Taliban and establish ties with anti-Coalition militias (ACM) participating in hostilities against US and Coalition forces in Afghanistan.”

Abdul Haq Wasiq, who was the Taliban’s deputy minister of intelligence, “utilized his office to support al-Qaida and to assist Taliban personnel [to] elude capture…. arranged for al-Qaida personnel to train Taliban intelligence staff in intelligence methods” and “assigned al-Qaida members to the Taliban Ministry of Intelligence.” He “was central to the Taliban’s efforts to form alliances with other Islamic fundamentalist groups to fight alongside the Taliban against US and Coalition forces.” If released “he is likely to pose a threat to the US, its interests and allies.”

Mullah Khirullah Said Wali Khairkhwa, once the Taliban’s interior minister, was “directly associated to Usama Bin Laden (UBL) and Taliban Supreme Commander Mullah Muhammad Omar” and was “trusted and respected by both.” After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, he “represented the Taliban during meetings with Iranian officials seeking to support hostilities against US and Coalition forces” and “attended a meeting at the direction of UBL, reportedly accompanied by members of HAMAS.” He is “one of the premier opium drug lords in Western Afghanistan” and was likely “associated with a militant training camp in Herat operated by deceased al-Qaida commander (in Iraq) Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.”

Mohammad Nabi Omari is “a senior Taliban official” who was “a member of a joint al-Qaida/Taliban ACM cell in Khowst and was involved in attacks against US and Coalition forces.” He “held weekly meetings” with “three al-Qaida affiliated individuals” to discuss anti-coalition plans, “maintained weapons caches” and “facilitated two al-Qaida operatives smuggling an unknown number of missiles along the highway between Jalalabad and Peshawar,” which intelligence officials believe contributed to the deaths of two Americans.

Amazingly, Obama not only released these brutal terrorists, he actually held a ceremony in the Rose Garden to personally announce it. He actually considers it an achievement.

These Taliban leaders are supposed to remain in Qatar, subject to security measures, including a one-year travel ban. Assuming that they abide by the terms of their release, they will be free to return to Afghanistan and take up arms against the United States on June 1, 2015. They will be welcomed back to the battlefield as jihadist heroes, and their reemergence after more than a decade in captivity will be a massive boost in morale for America’s enemies.

Freeing these terrorists may have secured the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, but it has put many more American lives at risk. Not only will these Taliban leaders go back to spilling American blood, their release also has taught our adversaries a lesson: The way to free Gitmo detainees is to take Americans hostage. If the Taliban or al-Qaeda captures another American and demands more Gitmo detainees be released in exchange for his or her freedom, it will be a direct result of Obama’s actions this weekend.

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Marc A.
Thiessen

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