The Obama administration is considering the release of five Taliban prisoners to improve peace talks with the Afghan insurgency and now we know who's on the short list. This morning, CNN's Adam Levine and Tim Lister got confirmation from a "knowledgeable source" of the names of the former Taliban leaders up for release from Guantanamo Bay. Thanks to WikiLeaks—and a joint project by The New York Times and NPR—there's a searchable docket with pictures and background details on all the detainees in Guantanamo. As such, we can show you what these prisoners look like and what they've allegedly done, according to government records. Not a bad resource in the run-up to a peace deal that's already controversial. Behold: The Taliban Five:
Khair Ulla Said Wali Khairkhwa: This former Afghan minister is in his mid-40s and has been in Guantanamo for nine years and nine months. When the Taliban ruled, he was the Afghan Minister of interior. In those days, he was apparently pretty media savvy: He was appointed the Taliban spokesperson for the BBC and Voice of America, according to his file. He was also governor of Herat from 1999 to 2001 and allegedly had direct ties to Osama bin Laden and the late Al Qaeda leader Abu Musab al Zarqawi. According to CNN, during questioning he "denied all knowledge of extremist activities."
Mullah Mohammad Fazl: This former Taliban Deputy Minister of Defense is 43- or 44-years-old and has been locked up in Guantanamo for nine years. A fearsome-sounding figure, his file says he "fought in the Russian jihad... assisted in the exfiltration of al Qaida members from Afghanistan to Pakistan [and] passed messages to senior al Qaida members." According to the AP, "Human Rights Watch says Fazl could be prosecuted for war crimes for presiding over the mass killing of Shiite Muslims in Afghanistan in 2000 and 2001 as the Taliban sought to consolidate its control over the country."
Mullah Norullah Nori: This former senior Taliban commander is in his mid-40s and has been holed up in Guantanamo for 10 years. According to his file, he fought on the front lines with the Taliban at Masar-E-Sharif and moved with a number of Taliban fighters to Kunduz to reestablish the front lines. Another prisoner with a ruthless past, the AP says "he has been accused of ordering the massacre of thousands of Shiite Muslims. Asked about it by military interrogators, he allegedly replied that they did what they had to do to achieve their ideal state."
Abdul Haq Wasiq: This former Deputy Director of Taliban intelligence is slightly younger (40-41-years-old) and has been held in Guantanamo for 10 years. Per CNN, "Wasiq claimed, according to the review, that he was arrested while trying to help the United States locate senior Taliban figures. He denied any links to militant groups." The AP reports that "Under Wasiq, there were widespread accounts of killings, torture and mistreatment."
Mohammad Nabi Omari: This former Taliban and al Qaeda associate is 43- or 44-years-old and has been locked up for nine years. His detainee summary says he "was a senior Taliban official who served in multiple leadership roles. Detainee had strong operational ties to Anti-Coalition Militia (ACM) groups including al-Qaida, the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, and the Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin (HIG), some of whom remain active." It also notes that he was "was involved in attacks against U.S. and Coalition forces. Detainee maintained weapons caches and facilitated the smuggling of fighters and weapons."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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