According to Military Times, five Taliban members exchanged for dishonorably discharged Bowe Bergdahl are back with the group.
Five members of the Afghan Taliban who were freed from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay in exchange for captured American Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl have joined the insurgent group’s political office in Qatar, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said Tuesday.
Our old friend Jim Geraghty weighed in on the news with this reminder:
I remember the absolute insistence of Obama administration defenders that these guys would never return to the fight. https://t.co/3ENZ1YZzeU
— Jim Geraghty (@jimgeraghty) October 30, 2018
The Military Times article does note that the group “will now be among Taliban representatives negotiating for peace in Afghanistan,” so they may not really be returning to the fight, which Geraghty also notes on his Twitter TL.
Still, there is no denying that these are some pretty reactionary people who are very representative of the Taliban’s brutal past.
Others fear the five, all of whom were close to the insurgent group’s founder and hard-line leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, bring with them the same ultra-conservative interpretation of Islam that characterized the group’s five-year rule that ended in 2001 with the U.S.-led invasion.
“The Taliban are bringing back their old generation, which means the Taliban have not changed their thinking or their leadership,” said Haroun Mir, political analyst in the Afghan capital.
The spin on this is that the presence of these five in the Qatar office will help sell a peace deal to “the rank and file, many of whom have resisted talks believing a military victory was within their grasp.”
Maybe the way forward is to go backwards, but memories of the Taliban they represent don’t really conjure up feelings of “peace.”