It is as if the USA surrendered in installments and the caliph has been installed in the Oval Office. Imagine reading the following on September 12, 2011. We would have stormed the Capitol. The Obama administration is set to release Taliban leaders with operational ties to Al Qaeda from Gitmo, even before the heinous Taliban has agreed to come to the table for "peace talks." The war criminals set for release are hardcore jihadist leaders who fought on the fields of Islamic imperialism and killed US and coalition troops.
These Muslim leaders would return to the battlefield and serve to inspire and lead the next generation of Muslim soldiers bent on destroying and overthrowing the West. Why would the Obama administration release these mass murderers? For Taliban promises to engage in peace talks? Obama will get nothing in return. The Taliban knows we are leaving Afghanistan; why come to the table? And why did Obama send all of our soldiers over to Afghanistan these past three years under impossible rules of engagement to suffer the largest casualty rates month to month, year to year, and then declare suddenly that the Taliban is not the enemy? To get re-elected? Monstrous murder.
Catherine Herridge of Fox News reports that a senior U.S. official has confirmed that “Mullah Mohammed Fazl is among the prisoners being considered for release.”
Marc Thiessen writes at the American Enterprise blog on Fazi the ghazi:
So who is this Mullah Mohammed Fazl?
Last year, WikiLeaks released a trove of documents it dubbed the “Gitmo Files” with assessments of hundreds of Guantanamo detainees—including Fazl. According to his official record, Fazl is a war criminal who has massacred thousands of people, has close relationships with al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, is involved in narcotics trafficking, and is so senior in the Taliban hierarchy that he once threatened the Taliban’s supreme leader, Mullah Omar. He is considered to pose a “high risk” to American forces and our allies if released.
Here is the official U.S. government assessment of the man Barack Obama wants to put back on the streets (emphasis is mine):
Detainee is assessed to be a HIGH risk, as he is likely to pose a threat to the US, its interests, and allies…. Detainee is an admitted senior official of the Taliban government and army and was last assigned to the position of Deputy Minister of Defense. Detainee also served as Chief of Staff of the Taliban Army and a commander of the 22nd Division. Detainee is wanted by the UN for possible war crimes including the murder of thousands of Shiites. Detainee had operational associations with significant al-Qaida and other extremist personnel. Detainee wielded considerable influence throughout the northern region of Afghanistan and his influence continued even after his capture. If released, detainee would likely rejoin the Taliban and establish ties with anti-Coalition militias (ACM) participating in hostilities against US and Coalition forces in Afghanistan….
Detainee is wanted by the UN for possible war crimes while serving as a Taliban Army Chief of Staff and was noted having a long record of human rights abuses. Detainee was implicated in the murder of thousands of Shiites in northern Afghanistan during the Taliban reign. When asked about the murders, detainee and [ANOTHER DETAINEE] did not express any regret and stated they did what they needed to do in their struggle to establish their ideal state.
Detainee protected a subordinate accused of mass murder. Detainee’s deputy commander, Mullah Dadullah Lang, aka (Commander Dadullah), was reportedly responsible for the murder of 500 Shia, Hazara, and Uzbek civilians, including men, women, and children, during the winter of 2000. Dadullah Lang’s troops seized the people near Sar-i-Pol, AF, trucked them to Baghlan Province, AF, killed them, and threw the bodies into gorges…. After Mullah Omar found out about the massacre, he ordered Dadullah Lang to be disarmed and brought to Kandahar to explain his actions. Detainee vouched for Dadullah Lang, reportedly telling Supreme Leader of the Taliban Mullah Muhammad Omar that if Dadullah Lang was disarmed, detainee would disarm Mullah Omar. (Analyst Note: Detainee was directly subordinate to Mullah Omar. Detainee’s threat directly against the Supreme Leader of the Taliban indicates he held great authority and power within the Taliban)….
Detainee was reportedly involved in Taliban narcotics trafficking activities….
[Another detainee] stated detainee has continued to spread anti-Afghan government and anti-US messages among detainees at JTF-GTMO [and] lists detainee among several detainees at JTF-GTMO who would likely pose a threat to the Afghan government it released….
Detainee was directly connected to several extremist organizations and facilitated programs supporting the Taliban, including al-Qaida and IMU…. Detainee has specific information relating to several extremist organizations that provide support to the Taliban. Detainee also probably has significant information on Taliban and al-Qaida personnel still active today.
This is the man the Obama administration wants to release—not in return for any concession on the part of the Taliban, mind you, but as a confidence building measure before any talks even begin. Based on this assessment, Mullah Mohammed Fazl is a mass murderer who should not be released under any circumstances. He should be tried by military commission and spend the rest of his life in custody at Guantanamo Bay.
Over at Heritage: Taliban Prisoner Release A Premature, Dangerously Naive Move
The British newspaper The Guardian has reported that the U.S. has agreed in principle to release high-ranking Taliban officials from Guantanamo Bay in return for the Afghan insurgents’ agreement to open a political office in Qatar. If true, this would demonstrate that the Obama Administration is dangerously naïve about the reality of the threat the Taliban continues to pose in the region. It also could reveal that the Administration has no real strategy for achieving U.S. counterterrorism objectives in the region and is desperate to strike a deal with the Taliban in order to justify its troop-withdrawal plan.
A few days ago, the media reported that the U.S. was considering releasing Mohammed Fazl, a “high-risk detainee” held at Guantanamo Bay since 2002. According to the report, a senior U.S. Administration official said that the release of Fazl and four other Taliban members had been requested by the Afghan government and Taliban representatives as far back as 2005. As a former senior commander of the Taliban, Fazl is alleged to be responsible for the killing of thousands of Afghan Shiia between 1998 and 2001.
It is a stretch to portray the Taliban’s opening of an office in Qatar as a major concession by the organization worthy of a reciprocal move by Washington. In fact, allowing the Taliban to open an office outside Afghanistan allows the organization to claim international legitimacy, despite its unwillingness to drop support for international terrorism or to commit to participating in a normal political process in Afghanistan.
It is understandable that the Administration wants to keep doors open for future negotiations with the Taliban. However, releasing senior Taliban prisoners before the group has renounced international terrorism or shown willingness to compromise is reckless.
If the Administration wants to build support on Capitol Hill for such a major gesture toward the Taliban, it must do a better job of explaining its objectives. State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland provided a fumbling response to a reporter’s question yesterday about the actual objectives of engaging the Taliban.
Leaving the door open for negotiations is one thing. But handing over the store before there are clear signs you are accomplishing your objectives is not a negotiation—it is a surrender.
The U.S. must be realistic about the threat that Taliban extremists and their al-Qaeda allies pose. The Administration should not pin false hopes on a political reconciliation process merely to justify a troop withdrawal. Political reconciliation is desirable, but only if it contributes to the goal of ensuring Afghanistan never again serves as a safe haven for global terrorists.
The Taliban’s opening an office in Qatar is not a major breakthrough for peace talks. A genuine breakthrough would be a Taliban denunciation of al-Qaeda and its international campaign of terrorism. There should also be clear indicators that Taliban leaders are genuinely ready for political compromise.
The U.S. misread the intentions of the Taliban and underestimated the strength of its bond with al-Qaeda when it sought to engage them before 9/11. U.S. diplomats, acting largely on inaccurate advice from Pakistani leaders, overestimated their own ability to influence decision-making within the Taliban leadership.
As Michael Rubin, former political adviser to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, has noted, “U.S. attempts to engage the Taliban from 1995 to 1999 represent “engagement for its own sake—without any consideration given to the behavior or sincerity of an unambiguously hostile interlocutor.” Rubin, now a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, details how U.S. State Department officials were repeatedly misled by Taliban officials harboring Osama bin Laden even after al-Qaeda attacked two U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998. As Rubin noted, “face-to-face meetings with Americans served only to reinforce the Taliban gang’s pretensions as a government rather than as an umbrella group for terrorists.”
In seeking talks with the Taliban, the Administration must avoid the same pitfalls U.S. officials fell into during the 1990s that ultimately helped set the stage for the 9/11 attacks. If the Taliban is able to reassert influence in Afghanistan without making the political compromises necessary for peace in the region, the U.S. will not only fail the Afghan people, who have already suffered under Taliban rule, but it will also sacrifice U.S. national security by allowing a violent, anti-Western Islamist ideology to succeed in the region.