In 2014, President Barack Obama released five Taliban commanders from the Guantanamo Bay detention center in exchange for an American soldier who deserted. Obama assured the concerned public that the five would be kept in Qatar, away from causing trouble in Afghanistan.
According to the New York Post, these men helped organize the takeover of Afghanistan, including Sunday’s capture of the capital city of Kabul.
Some of those five Taliban commanders reportedly vowed to return to Afghanistan and fight the American troops based there, making contact with active Taliban militants.
Despite these pledges, the Obama administration turned a blind eye to the intelligence reports, and the five freed detainees reportedly formed a regime-in-exile based in Qatar.
During recent peace talks, “they were recognized by Western diplomats as official representatives of the Taliban,” wrote the New York Post.
Khairullah Khairkhwa, one of the men freed, sat with President Biden’s envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, as part of the official Taliban delegation negotiating the final terms of US withdrawn from the country.
“I started jihad to remove foreign forces from my country and establish an Islamic government, and jihad will continue until we reach that goal through a political agreement,” Khairkhwa said at the Moscow summit.
Shortly after breaking into the Afghanistan presidential palace in Kabul on Sunday, a group of Taliban fighters reportedly told Al Jazeera that they were planning to bring Khairkhwa back from Qatar.
“One unidentified fighter, who blasted America for ‘oppressing our people for 20 years,’ claimed he had also been locked up at the Guantanamo Bay facility,” the New York Post reported.
The reported mastermind of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan is Khairkhwa, the Taliban mullah who was release by the Obama administration despite reports from the Pentagon classifying him as too dangerous to release.
Khairkhwa had told the Biden administration earlier this year that the Taliban “would not launch a spring military offensive if Biden committed to removing all remaining American troops. He also promised not to retaliate against any Afghans who worked with the US military or the US-backed government in Kabul,” wrote the New York Post.
Reports coming out of Kabul and Kandahar reveal that Taliban fighters have they will not be abiding by that previous statement, with the Taliban going door to door to punish their enemies.
Khairkhwa had previously served as the Taliban’s interior minister in Afghanistan, overseeing the enforcement of punishments across the country. He was arrested in Pakistan in 2002 and sent to Guantanamo Bay.