US to propose prisoner swap that would send five Taliban detainees to Qatar
Five Taliban members who have been detained at Guantanamo Bay may be released to Qatar’s custody in exchange for a US soldier held captive in Afghanistan, sources have told Reuters.
The prisoners are thought to be among the most dangerous of the remaining Guantanamo detainees, but their transfer is considered a “necessary evil” to bring 26-year-old Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl home, the report states.
Earlier this year, the Taliban prisoners had expressed interest in being sent to Qatar, but the US had not agreed.
There was also talks of opening a political office in Doha, with which the US would liase, but the Taliban suspended that effort, calling it “wasting time.”
Of the five senior Taliban figures, many officials and lawmakers are particularly nervous about transferring Mullah Mohammed Fazl, a “high-risk detainee” who was in the first group sent to Guantanamo in early 2002, under what could be only loose security and travel restrictions.
A former Taliban deputy minister of defense, Fazl is alleged to be responsible for the massacre of thousands of minority Shi’ites. The group also includes Noorullah Noori, a former top military commander; former deputy intelligence minister Abdul Haq Wasiq; and Khairullah Khairkhwa, a former interior minister. The identity of the fifth detainee remains unclear.
When this proposal was first broached in January, a former Taliban official said that the Qatari government would take measures “to ensure these Taliban figures will not use Qatar soil to organise and conduct attacks against anyone,” adding that the men’s families may have been transferred here.
Credit: Photo by Marion Doss