In a demonstration of peace at any cost, the Obama administration is considering transferring 5 Guantanamo detainees to Afghan custody. Reuters has learned one of the detainees is a senior Taliban official suspected of major human rights abuses as part of a remote bid to improve the prospects of a peace deal in Afghanistan.
The potential handover of Mohammed Fazl, a “high-risk detainee”, held at the Guantanamo Bay military prison since early 2002, set off alarms on Capitol Hill and among some US intelligence officials.
As a senior commander of the Taliban army, Fazl is alleged to be responsible for the killing of thousands of Afghanistan’s minority Shi’ite Muslims between 1998 and 2001.
Senior Administration officials said their 10-month-long effort to set up substantive negotiations between the weak government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai and theTaliban has reached a make-or-break stage. They suggested “confidence-building measures”, such as the transfer of five detainees from Guantanamo, of whom Fazl could be one, and the establishment of a Taliban office outside Afghanistan.
Confidence-building measures? May I ask; confidence in whom or what? Confidence the terrorist organization, the Taliban, wants the same thing we do? I rather doubt that.
Critics of Obama’s peace initiative though, remain deeply sceptical of the Taliban’s willingness to negotiate.
“I can tell you that the hair on the back of my neck went up when they walked in with this a month ago, and there’s been very, very strong letters fired off to the administration,” an administration official said on condition of anonymity. “What is clear is the president’s order to us to continue to discuss these important matters with
Senator Saxby Chambliss, the top Republican on the senate intelligence committee, said
such detainees would “likely continue to pose a threat to the United States” even once
they were transferred.
In a surprising bit of candor (a surprise to me anyway) Michael Semple, a former UN official with more than two decades of experience in Afghanistan, said Fazl commanded thousands of Taliban soldiers at a time when its army carried out massacres of Shi’ites. He said, “If you’re head of an army that carries out a massacre, even if you’re not actually there, you are implicated by virtue of command and control responsibility”.
In February, the AfghanHigh Peace Council named six men it wanted released as a goodwill gesture. The list included Fazl; senior Taliban military commander Noorullah Noori; former deputy intelligence minister Abdul Haq Wasiq; and Khairullah Khairkhwa, a former interior minister.
The “Peace Council” wants 2 military commanders & an intelligence officer freed.
Sounds about right.
Attribution: The Guardian