President Obama is reportedly considering releasing several senior Taliban leaders from Guantanamo Bay as an enticement to get the Taliban to the peace table. If he does so, he will do tremendous harm to American national security — and to his prospects for reelection this fall.
To understand why, consider the individuals White House is considering setting free. Last year WikiLeaks released a trove of documents it dubbed the “Gitmo Files” with assessments of hundreds of Guantanamo detainees — including the five Taliban leaders reportedly under consideration for release. Here is the U.S. military’s assessment of them:
Marc A. Thiessen
A fellow with the American Enterprise Institute, Thiessen writes a weekly column for The Post.
Mullah Mohammed Fazl, deputy defense minister. Fazl is “wanted by the UN for possible war crimes while serving as a Taliban Army Chief of Staff and … was implicated in the murder of thousands of Shiites in northern Afghanistan during the Taliban reign.” He has “operational associations with significant al-Qaida and other extremist personnel,” was “involved in Taliban narcotics trafficking,” and is so senior in the Taliban hierarchy that he once threatened the Taliban’s supreme leader, Mullah Omar. Military officials assess that Fazl wields “considerable influence throughout the northern region of Afghanistan and his influence continued even after his capture” adding, “If released, [Fazl] would likely rejoin the Taliban and establish ties with anti-Coalition militias (ACM) participating in hostilities against US and Coalition forces in Afghanistan.”
Abdul Haq Wasiq, deputy minister of intelligence. Wasiq “was central to the Taliban’s efforts to form alliances with other Islamic fundamentalist groups to fight alongside the Taliban against US and Coalition forces.” He “utilized his office to support al-Qaida and to assist Taliban personnel elude capture…. arranged for al-Qaida personnel to train Taliban intelligence staff in intelligence methods” and “assigned al-Qaida members to the Taliban Ministry of Intelligence.” If released “he is likely to pose a threat to the US, its interests and allies.”
Mullah Norullah Noori, governor-general of Afghanistan's northern zone. Noori “is considered one of the most significant former Taliban officials detained at JTF-GTMO” who “led troops against US and Coalition forces” and “was directly subordinate to Taliban Supreme Leader Mullah Omar.” He “is wanted by the UN for possible war crimes,” is “associated with members of al-Qaida,” and is assessed “to be a hardliner in his support of the Taliban philosophy.” He “continues to be a significant figure encouraging acts of aggression and his brother is currently a Taliban commander conducting operations against US and Coalition forces…. (Analyst note: Detainee would likely join his brother if released.”)
Mullah Khairullah Khairkhwa, Herat governor and acting interior minister. Khairkhwa is “directly associated to Usama Bin Laden (UBL) and Taliban Supreme Commander Mullah Muhammad Omar” and was “trusted and respected by both.” After 9/11 he “represented the Taliban during meetings with Iranian officials seeking to support hostilities against US and Coalition forces” and “attended a meeting at the direction of UBL, reportedly accompanied by members of HAMAS.” He is “one of the premier opium drug lords in Western Afghanistan” and was likely “associated with a militant training camp in Herat operated by deceased al-Qaida commander (in Iraq) Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.”