The Taliban just released a statement on the swap of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, held in captivity for five years, for five Guantanamo detainees:
We heartily congratulate the whole nation, Mujahidin of the Islamic Emirate, particularly the kith and kin of the released ones that five heads of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan namely Mulla Muhammad Fazal Akhund, Mulla Noorulla Noori, Mulla Khairulla Khairkhwa, Mulla Abdul Haq Waseeq and Moulavi Muhammad Nabi who had been incarcerated for the last thirteen years in ‘Guantanamo Jail’ are released due to the benevolence of Allah Almighty and the sacrifices of the heroic and courageous Mujahidin of the Islamic Emirate.
These five heads were released in the result of an indirect negotiation between the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and the United States mediated by Qatari government. They will remain with their families inside Qatar and will lead a normal life.
To get the preceding five heads released, it is worth mentioning that the Islamic Emirate handed over the American soldier to the US who was captive with us approximately for the last five years.
These five heads of the Islamic Emirate were handed over on Saturday at 07:00 pm Afghanistan standard time to the delegation of Qatar who has been waiting there in ‘Guantanamo Bay’ for the previous three days. This delegation, including five heads of the Islamic Emirate, left Guantanamo at 10:00 pm and will arrive in Qatar today Sunday. They will be received and welcomed by the Political Bureau of the Islamic Emirate inside Qatar and members of the leading council of the Islamic Emirate. Similarly, the American prisoner ‘Bergdahl’ was handed over in the suburbs of ‘Khost’ province to the other side on Saturday at 07:00 pm Afghanistan standard time.
The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has been taking all possible measures since long to get all the Afghan prisoners released whether they are incarcerated inside the country or outside and to let them enjoy a free and peaceful life.
In the future too, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is determined to get all the Mujahidin prisoners released as soon as possible. In this regard, we expect all the legal and human rights societies particularly the United Nations to share and accelerate their efforts with Afghan people and the Islamic Emirate on the basis of human sympathy so that all the incarcerated people are freed and their basic legal and human rights are safeguarded and they could lead an independent and peaceful life of their own accord.
Muhammad Fazal Akhund, a frontline commander and former Taliban chief of staff, was on the scene when CIA operative Johnny Spann, the first U.S. casualty in Afghanistan, was killed in 2001. “The Obama administration is optimistic that if Fazl could be left to able Qatari hands, he could be recycled as an Islamist politician for a democratic era,” states the Who Is Who in Afghanistan site compiled by Afghans.
“It is rumored that Fazl might have the credentials to bring Mullah Omar on board for launching formal peace talks. He is certainly one of the finest products of Pakistan’s madrassas and he enjoyed terrific equations with the ISI. (Declassified U.S. State Department documents cite him as a key figure in the Taliban’s capture of Kabul in 1996.) His bonding with the Islamist forces in Pakistan and the ISI can be useful channels of communication to persuade Islamabad to cooperate with the U.S.-led peace talks or, at the very least, refrain from undercutting.”
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said this morning on CNN that the break in U.S. policy against negotiating with terrorists puts Americans at risk everywhere.
“The No. 1 way that al-Qaeda raises money is by ransom – kidnapping and ransom. We have now set a price,” Rogers said.
“If you negotiate here, you’ve sent a message to every al-Qaeda group in the world – by the way, some who are holding U.S. hostages today – that there is some value now in that hostage in a way that they didn’t have before. That is dangerous.”
One of those hostages is contractor Warren Weinstein, held by al-Qaeda in Pakistan since August 2011.