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The PJ Tatler

by
Bryan Preston

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June 2, 2014 - 9:02 am

How long will it be before these five Taliban terrorist commanders return to battlefields and terror cells to kill Americans?

The details of what the government believes it knows about the five former Taliban leaders were made public in classified military files given to WikiLeaks by Pfc. Bradley Manning, now Chelsea Manning.

Mohammad Nabi Omari is described in the files as “one of the most significant former Taliban leaders detained” at Guantánamo. He is said to have strong operational ties to anticoalition militia groups, including Al Qaeda, the Taliban and the Haqqani network.

A former Taliban provincial governor, Mullah Norullah Noori, is also “considered one of the most significant former Taliban officials” at the prison, according to the documents.

Both Mr. Noori and a third detainee being exchanged, Mullah Mohammad Fazl, a former Taliban deputy defense minister, are accused of having commanded forces that killed thousands of Shiite Muslims, a minority in Afghanistan, before the Taliban were toppled in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The fourth detainee is Abdul Haq Wasiq, a former top Taliban intelligence official. The fifth, Khirullah Said Wali Khairkhwa, is a former minister of the interior and provincial governor.

A month? A week? A day? Qatar is supposed to keep them out of the war for up to a year. What are the chances that Qatar can actually accomplish that? Ten percent? Zero?

President Barack Obama has been fond of talking up how awful it is that the United States has held captured terrorists at Gitmo for years, that it’s a stain on our nation, and so forth. The president never brings up the fact that the recidivism rate for terrorists released from Gitmo is incredibly high.

Of the 603 terrorists released from the prison, 100 are now confirmed as having returned to terrorism. Of those, 17 are dead, 27 are in custody, and 56 are free. Released detainees suspected of having returned to terrorism number 74, including two that are dead, 25 that are in custody, and 47 no longer being held.

By contrast, in January there were a total of 97 released prisoners who returned to terrorism and another 72 who were suspected of re-engaging in terrorism.

Thomas Joscelyn, a terrorism analyst with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said releasing Guantanamo inmates increases the danger they will return to jihad.

“Once a detainee is transferred from Guantanamo to his home country, or a third country, there is no guarantee that appropriate security measures will be put in place,” Joscelyn said in an email. “Yet, the U.S. government frequently requires the receiving country to enact such measures as part of the transfer agreement. Thus, even detainees who are known to be very dangerous have rejoined the fight after leaving Guantanamo.”

The five terrorist released in exchange for Bergdahl are all high-value detainees. They are commanders. They all know a lot. They are all already responsible for killing Americans. We swapped them for a man who the soldiers who served with him describe as a deserter. We lost six brave soldiers after Bergdahl deserted, in the search to retrieve him. Now the government has put five dangerous terrorists back in the war, and the government broke the law more than once to make this deal happen.

This was a terrible deal for America if that’s all you know. But there is even more.

Rather than rant about how awful an idea it was to gain Bergdahl’s release by negotiating with terrorists, I’ll let Amir Hekmati do the talking. He is an American Marine veteran currently held prisoner by the Iranian government for about 1,000 days.

Amir took his case directly to Kerry in a letter smuggled out of prison and obtained by the Guardian in September. After thanking Kerry for lobbying on his behalf, Amir stressed that the confessions on false charges were “obtained by force, threats, miserable prison conditions, and prolonged periods of solitary confinement.”

“This is part of a propaganda and hostage taking effort by Iranian intelligence to secure the release of Iranians abroad being held on security-related charges. Iranian intelligence has suggested through my court-appointed lawyer Mr. Hussein Yazdi Samadi that I be released in exchange for 2 Iranians being held abroad,” Amir wrote in the letter confirmed authentic by his family. “I had nothing to do with their arrest, committed no crime, and see no reason why the U.S. Government should entertain such a ridiculous proposition. I do not wish to set a precedent for others that may be unlawfully (obtained) for political gain in the future.”

“While my family and I have suffered greatly I will accept nothing but my unconditional release,” he continued. “The very same suffering that the 3 American hikers have recently suffered and many others by these unlawful tactics. My hope is that those individuals within the Iranian government who respect rule of law and international ethics will intervene in my case. As someone of Iranian heritage, I hope that the Iranian people will also support me and call on their government to respect my legal rights.”

Unconditional. Hekmati sees how dangerous it is to set the precedent that the United States will negotiate with terrorists to get them to release prisoners the terrorists are holding. Why doesn’t the Obama administration see it? Or, does the administration see that danger, and either dismiss it or just not care about it?

Bryan Preston has been a leading conservative blogger and opinionator since founding his first blog in 2001. Bryan is a military veteran, worked for NASA, was a founding blogger and producer at Hot Air, was producer of the Laura Ingraham Show and, most recently before joining PJM, was Communications Director of the Republican Party of Texas.

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There are some good articles questioning this transfer on PJ today. This is not one of them. Unfortunately, it stoops to fear mongering to make an argument.

Under certain circumstances, prisoner swaps are great deals. Both sides give up something with little value to them, and receive something of very high value. Even Israel does it time to time.

The knee-jerk reaction is to argue that the released prisoners will return to terrorism. That is possible, but the middle east is a hornets nest of terrorists. Another five is by any calculation is insignificant, and strategists know it.

I'm not saying that this particular swap was a good idea (i don't know the details), but in general it should always be an option. Turnover in the terror business is high, arguing that 5 more on the field is "virtually certain" to result in more american deaths is unfounded and alarmist.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
I might agree if the exchanged terrorists were ordinary grunts, mere foot-soldiers in the fight. But these 5 seem to be very high level individuals of cabinet level in most cases.

Let's do a little thought experiment. It's the end of WW II and you've just rounded up a couple of hundred top Nazis. A single American is still help captive somewhere by a rogue group of SS men who haven't acknowledged the end of the war. They offer to trade their own captive, who may well have been a deserter, for Himmler, Goerring, Goebbels, as well as a couple of the top generals of the Third Reich. Do you go for the trade?

THAT is essentially what has happened here. We didn't trade for frontline soldiers or cooks, we traded some of the highest value prisoners we had for one of our soldiers, one who doesn't seem to have been particularly keen on his country or its military.

I'm not questioning that exchanges can and do happen and can involve the best of countries; I'm just questioning THIS particular exchange. We gave up a great deal for relatively little, unless Bowe Bergdahl turns out to have been very unjustly maligned.
21 weeks ago
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