As part of a prisoner swap to free Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the United States agreed to transfer five Guantánamo detainees to Qatar.
NPR’s Tom Bowman received a list of the prisoners being released from a Pentagon official. According to documents leaked to the organization WikiLeaks, all five prisoners were high-ranking Taliban officials. Some were considered high-risk and “likely to post a threat to the U.S., its interests and allies.”
U.S. officials said working with the government of Qatar, they had ameliorated some of those risks, because the detainees will face restrictions on their movements and activities.
Using those leaked documents as a basis, NPR and The New York Times built a database on the prisoners in Guantánamo. Here’s a brief look at who they are:
— Mullah Mohammad Fazl: Is thought to be 46 or 47 years old. According to documents from the Joint Task Force Guantánamo:
“Detainee aas the Taliban Deputy Minister of Defense during Operation Enduring Freedom and is an admitted senior commander who served as Chief of Staff of the Taliban Army and as a commander of the 22nd Division. Detainee is wanted by the UN for possible War crimes including the murder of thousands of Shiites. Detainee was associated with terrorist groups currently opposing US and Coalition forces.”
“Detainee was a senior Taliban military commander in Mazar-e-Sharif during hostilities against US and Coalition forces in late 2001. Detainee was also the Taliban governor for the Balkh and Laghman provinces and is wanted by the United Nations (UN) for possible war crimes including the murder of thousands of Shiite Muslims. Detainee is associated with Supreme Taliban Commander Mullah Muhammad Omar, other senior Taliban officials, senior al-Qaida members and other extremist organizations and has remained a significant figure to Taliban supporters. Detainee’s brother is a Taliban.”
— Muhammad Nabi: Is thought to be 45 or 46 years old. According to the documents, he was considered “high risk,” “high threat,” and of “high” “intelligence value.” The documents add:
“Detainee 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… Detainee was a member of a joint al-Qaida/ Taliban ACM cell in Khowst and was involved in attacks against US and Coalition forces. Detainee maintained weapons caches and facilitated the smuggling of fighters and weapons.”
— Khirullah Said Wali Khairkhwa: Is thought to be 46 or 47 years old. According to the documents:
“Detainee was a senior Taliban official serving as the Minister of Interior, Governor of Herat, and a military commander. Detainee was directly associated to Usama Bin Laden (UBL) and Taliban Supreme Commander Mullah Muhammad Omar, and was added to the UN financial freeze list. Following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks, detainee represented the Taliban during meetings with Iranian officials seeking to support hostilities against US and Coalition forces. Detainee also attended a meeting at the direction of UBL, reportedly accompanied by members of HAMAS. Detainee and his deputy were probably associated with a militant training camp in Herat operated by deceased al-Qaida commander (in Iraq) Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Detainee was identified as a narcotics trafficker and probably used his position and influences to become one of the major opium drug lords in Western Afghanistan. Detainee probably used profits from drugs to promote Taliban interests in the area.”
— Abdul Haq Wasiq: Is believed to be 42 or 43 years old. According to the documents:
“Detainee served as the Taliban Deputy Minister of Intelligence. Detainee had direct access to Taliban and Hezb-e-Islarni Gulbuddin leadership. He 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 after the 11 September 2001 attacks. Detainee utilized his office to support al-Qaida and to assist Taliban personnel elude capture. Detainee arranged for al-Qaida personnel to train Taliban intelligence staff in intelligence methods.”