A Taliban prisoner who was released from Guantanamo Bay by President Obama in 2014 has emerged as a key figure in the resurgence of the Taliban and the power grab across Afghanistan.
Khairullah Khairkhwa was released along with four others in exchange for captured US Army soldier Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. US intelligence urged Obama to reconsider the transfer of the ‘Gitmo Five’, who were still considered high-risk at the time of the prisoner swap. The five terrorists were initially kept in Qatar, to prevent them from participating in politics in Afghanistan.
Reports indicate that Khairkhwa was in communication with active Taliban terror cells and planned to drive American troops out of the nation alongside his role as an official negotiator for peace talks. Al Jazeera and the New York Daily Post have quoted Taliban fighters who claim that Khairkhwa and the other exiled members will be brought back to Afghanistan and return to prominent leadership positions.
A commander present at the Taliban’s press conference from inside the presidential palace in Kabul was also released from Guantanamo Bay in 2007, after claiming he was a shopkeeper who intended to return to Afghanistan to care for his sick father.
Guantanamo Bay is still operational, holding close to 40 detainees.