By: Matt Archibald
With all the press reports surrounding the release of Bowe Bergdahl, we haven’t seen a lot concerning the 5 detainees that we “traded” for this young man. There have been a few reports here and there, but nothing substantial that has explained their contextual significance.
Mullah Mohammad Fazl was the deputy defense minister for the Taliban and Chief of Staff of the Taliban regime’s military. He was the de facto military commander in the northern part of Afghanistan as well, where a great deal of atrocities took place. When the Taliban took over Mazar-e Sharif, the fighters massacred over 8,000 Shi’ite men, women, and children, most of them in their homes. Container trucks were seen leaving the Mazar-e Sharif prison, filled with corpses. They then turned their attention to the Hazara, publically stating their desire to remove the minority from the planet. It’s certainly no analytic leap to assume that he was intimately involved with these campaigns, in fact, given his position, it’s likely that he may have ordered them and most likely personally participated.
Khairullah Khairkhwa was not only the Taliban’s interior minister, but also their primary liaison to Al Qaeda and Usama Bin Laden personally. He also reportedly held meetings with the Iranians after 9/11 in order to draw them into the fight against coalition forces in Afghanistan. Also a narcotics trafficker with personal ties to Hamas and the late Mr. Zarqawi. Oh yeah, and he’s a personal friend of Karzai as well. Go figure.
Mullah Noorullah Noori was the military commander of Mazar-e Sharif during the ethnic cleansing campaign which killed thousands of Shi’ites. He is wanted by the UN for war crimes in connection with these massacres.
Mohammed Nabi Omari is an associate of the Haqqani network and helped supply weapons and led attacks against coalition forces in Khowst.
Abdul Haq Wasiq was the deputy minister of intelligence – responsible for a department which routinely and systematically tortured and killed Afghans.
This is just a snapshot of some of the deeds committed by these men. Having studied the Taliban for many years, I can comfortably say that these probably understate the amount of evil that these men have directed (and most likely personally participated) in the name of their Amir ul-Momineen Mullah Omar. We also have to remember that there’s been a recidivist movement amongst released detainee’s. One only has to look at Abdul Qayoum Zakir to fully understand the danger of this trend.
So we have to ask ourselves – were they worth it? I vote no. It’s easy to think that these men will go back to a peaceful life in Afghanistan – and that with our combat operations seemingly ending – they’ll be no threat to us. But I’d like to remind us that, for Pashtuns, the concept of revenge is a little different. Revenge is not a choice for them, revenge is an obligation, and directly reflects on their honor. And for the President to claim that we’ll be able to track these men effectively is complete hogwash. I spent many years as an analyst searching for exactly these type of men in exactly the same area. For the President to insinuate that this would be an easy task, is as ludicrous as it is insulting. Truth be told – once these men slip into the wind, we’ll likely never be able to find them again. And they’ll be free to plan their inevitable revenge.