Emptying Gitmo: Obama Trades 5 Terrorist For 1 POW; House Passes Spending For Gitmo North
“This deal is getting worse all the time”-Lando Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
This weekend something very big happened in American foreign policy, the decades old doctrine of not negotiating with terrorist is dead and with that we can start counting down the days until President Obama closes Gitmo and sends those terrorist prisoners he doesn’t release to Thomson Prison in Northwestern Illinois.
Things all began in earnest on Saturday when President Obama announced that an American POW held captive by the Taliban for five years, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, had been released by his terrorist captors in exchange for the US releasing five senior Taliban commanders held at the US military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to the custody of Qatar.
Under a law signed by President Obama, any such release or transfer of terrorist prisoners being held in Gitmo has to be preceded by 30 days notice to Congress. This weekend the Obama administration is admitting that they violated this law, since Congress, nor anyone else, was informed of this (rotten)deal prior to it being pulled off early Saturday morning in the mountains of Eastern Afghanistan.
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel defended not following the law as he spoke with reporters en route to Afghanistan, via Fox News:
“We believed that the information we had, the intelligence we had, was such that Sgt. Bergdahl’s safety and health were both in jeopardy and in particular his health deteriorating,” Hagel told reports en route to Bagram Air Field. “It was our judgement that if we could find an opening and move very quickly with that opening, that we needed to get him out of there essentially to save his life.”
Members of the Taliban handed Bergdahl over to special operations forces in eastern Afghanistan Saturday. Later in the day, the freed detainees, whose transfer Hagel said he authorized, were flown from Guantanamo Bay to Qatar, whose government had acted as an intermediary in negotiations.
“Fortunately … no shots were fired. There was no violence,” Hagel said. “It went as well as we not only expected and planned, but I think as well as it could have.”
In exchanging Sgt. Bergdahl for five Taliban terrorist President Obama and his administration broke with decades of tradition in not negotiating with terrorist over anything.
As far back as January of 2013 the Obama administration and State Department where sticking to that doctrine as reported by CNS News at the time, when there was a possibility that the mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing could be released or transferred due to political instability in Egypt with the ouster of President Mubarack and the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood(itself a terrorist group).
“The United States does not negotiate with terrorists,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.
For at least the last year President Obama, who badly wants to end the war in Afghanistan now that Osama Bin Laden has been killed, and his people have been engaged with secretive talks with the Taliban in an attempt to make reconciliations with them and the Afghan government.
Never mind the fact that these same Taliban members have killed thousands of US and NATO service men and woman since the US military toppled the Taliban in late 2001 following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that killed 3,000 Americans.
Prior to the Taliban’s toppling this was a regime that forbid girls from attending school, destroyed numerous historical statues of Buddha, and was protecting and harboring Osama Bin Laden and other senior Al Qaeda leaders before, during, and immediately after the 9/11 attack.
This “deal” to free Sgt. Bergdahl is a bad one, that will come back to haunt everyone.
Because, the five Tailban leaders President Obama effectively let go where at one time considered by our military to be “high risk” terrorist who would carry out attacks against the United States, our allies, and our interest, not to mention citizens.
The Long War Journal has a profile on each of these terrorist pukes and it reads like a list of reasons why none of these individuals should ever be allowed to walk free(in any society).
Abdul Haq Wasiq–senior Taliban intelligence official
Abdul Haq Wasiq, a former Taliban intelligence official, “had direct access to Taliban and Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin (HIG) leadership,” according to a leaked JTF-GTMO threat assessment. Wasiq “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.”
JTF-GTMO concluded that Wasiq “utilized his office to support al Qaeda and to assist Taliban personnel elude capture” in late 2001. Wasiq also “arranged for al Qaeda personnel to train Taliban intelligence staff in intelligence methods.”
Al Qaeda’s training of Taliban operatives, arranged by Wasiq, was reportedly conducted by Hamza Zubayr, a terrorist who was formerly an instructor at one of al Qaeda’s most important training camps. Zubayr was killed during the same September 2002 raid that netted 9/11 facilitator Ramzi Binalshibh. The assistance from Zubayr was crucially important to the Taliban’s intelligence efforts, according to the JTF-GTMO file, because many of the administrators in the Taliban Ministry of Intelligence “had no prior intelligence background.”
Mullah Norullah Noori, senior Taliban military commander
Another leaked JTF-GTMO file described Noori as a “senior Taliban military commander” who was engaged in hostilities “against US and Coalition forces in late 2001.” Noori is “wanted by the United Nations (UN) for possible war crimes including the murder of thousands of Shiite Muslims.”
When the JTF-GTMO threat assessment for Noori was authored in February 2008, his brother was still active in the fight against the Coalition. Noori’s “brother is a Taliban commander directing operations against US and Coalition forces in Zabul Province.” Noori himself “remained a significant figure to Taliban supporters” even after his capture.
In addition to his ties to Mullah Omar and other senior Taliban leaders, Noori was “associated with…senior al Qaeda members and other extremist organizations.”
Declassified memos authored at Guantanamo provide more details about Noori’s al Qaeda ties. Noori “fought alongside al Qaeda as a Taliban military general, against the Northern Alliance” in September 1995. Noori also “hosted al Qaeda commanders” and “met a subordinate of Osama bin Laden to pass a message from the Taliban supreme leader” – that is, a message from Mullah Omar.
Mullah Mohammad Fazl, Taliban deputy minister of defense
Mullah Mohammad Fazl was one of the Taliban’s most experienced commanders prior to his capture in November 2001. Like Noori, according to another leaked JTF-GTMO file, Fazl is “wanted by the UN for possible war crimes including the murder of thousands of Shiites.” Fazl “was associated with terrorist groups currently opposing U.S. and Coalition forces including al Qaeda, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin (HIG), and an Anti-Coalition Militia group known as Harakat-i-Inqilab-i-Islami.”
Fazl had “operational associations with significant al Qaeda and other extremist personnel,” according to JTF-GTMO. One of the high-ranking al Qaeda commanders Fazl long cooperated with was Abdel Hadi al Iraqi, who led Osama bin Laden’s Arab 055 Brigade in the Taliban’s Afghanistan. The 055 Brigade was bin Laden’s chief fighting force and served alongside Taliban units.
Immediately “following the assassination of Northern Alliance commander Ahmad Shah Massoud in September 2001,” al Iraqi explained to US officials, “the Northern Alliance was demoralized” and he met with Fazl to “coordinate an attack with the Taliban against the Northern Alliance.”
Prior to his detention, Fazl “wielded considerable influence throughout the northern region of Afghanistan and his influence continued after his capture.” Fazl’s “name and capture have been used in recruiting campaigns by the Taliban.”
“If released,” JTF-GTMO warned in a February 2008 memo, Fazl “would likely rejoin the Taliban and establish ties with [Anti-Coalition Militia] elements participating in hostilities against U.S. and Coalition forces in Afghanistan.”
Mullah Khairullah Khairkhwa, former governor of Herat province
Khairkhwa was one of Mullah Omar’s closest confidantes prior to his capture. According to a JTF-GTMO file, Khairkhwa “was directly associated” with both Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar. “Following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks,” the leaked JTF-GTMO file reads, Khairkhwa “represented the Taliban during meetings with Iranian officials seeking to support hostilities against US and Coalition Forces.” In June 2011, a DC district court denied Khairkhwa’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus, based in large part on his admitted role in brokering the Taliban’s post-9/11 deal with the Iranians. [See LWJ report, DC district court denies former Taliban governor’s habeas petition.]
As the governor of Afghanistan’s western Herat province, Khairkhwa and “his deputy were probably associated with a militant training camp in Herat operated by deceased al Qaeda commander (in Iraq) Abu Musab al Zarqawi.”
In declassified memos prepared at Guantanamo, US officials alleged that Khairkhwa became a major drug trafficker as well. Khairkhwa reportedly built three walled compounds that he used to manage his opium trade. And he allegedly oversaw one of Osama bin Laden’s training facilities in Herat, too. One US government memo noted that only Khairkhwa or bin Laden himself “could authorize entrance” to the facility, which was one of bin Laden’s “most important bases” and “conducted terrorist training two times per week.”
Mohammad Nabi Omari, senior Taliban leader who served multiple roles
In a leaked memo dated Jan. 23, 2008, JTF-GTMO analysts recommended that Nabi be held in “continued detention” by the Defense Department. Nabi “was a senior Taliban official who served in multiple leadership roles,” according to JTF-GTMO. Nabi “had strong operational ties to Anti-Coalition Militia (ACM) groups including al Qaeda, the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, and the Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin (HIG), some of whom remain active in ACM activities.”
Intelligence reports cited by JTF-GTMO indicate that Nabi was a “member of a joint al Qaeda/Taliban ACM cell in Khowst and was involved in attacks against US and Coalition forces.” Nabi also “maintained weapons caches and facilitated the smuggling of fighters and weapons.”
Prior to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Nabi worked for the Taliban’s border security and in this capacity had “access to senior Taliban commander and leader of the Haqqani Network, Jalaluddin Haqqani.” Haqqani was the Taliban Minister of Frontiers and Borders at the time and this is what gave Nabi the opportunity to become Haqqani’s “close associate,” according to JTF-GTMO.
One “sensitive contact” told authorities that Nabi was one of “three former Taliban commanders loyal to Haqqani.” The other two are Nabi’s brother-in-law, Malim Jan, and Gul Majid. The three worked under still another Taliban commander, Zakim Khan.
Malim Jan was nicknamed the “Butcher of Khowst” for his reported role in murdering 300 people there. Jan was a sub-commander under Haqqani and the head of a “Secret Police” unit.
Intelligence reports cited by JTF-GTMO indicate that Malim Jan, Gul Majid, and Zakim Khan were all still active in the insurgency in Afghanistan as of late 2007.
A “sensitive contact” told authorities that Nabi participated in a Jan. 26, 2002 “planning session to identify a new Governor of Khowst and to propose a list of members for the Khowst City Shura Council loyal to Haqqani.” Several other high-level Taliban and Haqqani officials attended the meeting. One of them “directed the group to reconvene after members discussed names with al Qaeda members in their provinces.” The leaked JTF-GTMO memo notes: “The plan was to have all personnel identified and vetted to prepare for future al Qaeda control of the area under Jalaluddin Haqqani.”
Beginning in February 2002, according to another intelligence report cited by JTF-GTMO, Nabi and “three al Qaeda affiliated individuals held weekly meetings to discuss ACM plans and to coordinate Haqqani loyalists.”
Then, in July 2002, an “Afghan government employee” reported that Nabi had joined “a new Khowst province ACM cell comprised of Taliban and al Qaeda commanders who had operated independently in the past.” The list of cell members provided by this source included not only Taliban and al Qaeda leaders, but also individuals affiliated with the HIG and the Haqqani Network.
The JTF-GTMO file includes an intriguing detail about one member of Nabi’s cell – a Haqqani money courier named Malik Khan. “Ayman al Zawahiri, the number two leader of al Qaeda” at the time, and now al Qaeda’s emir, “has stayed at Khan’s compound located outside Miram Shah,” Pakistan.
In August 2002, Nabi reportedly helped two al Qaeda operatives smuggle “an unknown number of missiles along the highway between Jalalabad and Peshawar,” Pakistan. The missiles were smuggled in pieces, with the intent of rebuilding them for attacks near the Jalalabad airport. On Aug. 28, 2002, JTF-GTMO analysts noted, “two Americans were killed during attacks against the Khowst, Gardez, and Jalalabad airports.”
Nabi was captured in September 2002, detained at Bagram, and then transferred to Guantanamo. It was the end, temporarily at least, to a career that started in the 1980s when Nabi first fought as a mujahideen against the Soviets.
Each and every last one of these five men is a hardened terrorist and it is only a matter of time before 1) they leave/escape/released/freed from Qatar and the United Arab Emirates and find their way back to the parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan where the Taliban hold sway, and 2) kill more Americans, Afghanis, Pakistanis, Brits, and anyone else who doesn’t follow the radical Islamist mindset.
As Lando said “This deal is getting worse all the time”
Which brings me to some troubling news about what has become dubbed Gitmo North.
At the beginning of President Obama’s first term efforts were started to have the federal government takeover the Thomson correctional facility in rural Thomson, Illinois in Carrol County along the Mississippi River in Northern Illinois. The speculation and fear has always been that the prison, built by the state of Illinois but never opened, would be used to house terrorist prisoners at Guantanamo Bay should that facility ever be closed. The very first executive order signed by President Obama was supposed to have closed the terrorist prison as a fulfillment of campaign promises to his anti-war base.
With this deal to free Sgt. Bergdahl it is looking more likely than ever that as President Obama continues with his lame duck term he will redouble his efforts to close Gitmo and move the terrorist held there, elsewhere.
For years Republican members of Congress have been steadfast in making sure that should Gitmo ever close none of the terrorist held prisoner there would be brought to the United States. Going so far as to block funding for any such prison(Thomson), and passing legislation prohibiting such a transfer.
However, that resolve appears to be lessening because on Friday the Republican controlled House passed a spending measure that included more than $50 million in funding to open Thomson.
From the Dixon Telegraph:
The House passed the Commerce-Justice-Science spending bill about 12:15 a.m. Friday after first thwarting an amendment introduced by Tennessee Republican Marsha Blackburn that specifically called for denying operational funds for the long-dormant prison.
Blackburn and Virginia Republican Frank Wolf have been staunch opponents of closing Guantanamo Bay, fearing that detainees will be brought to U.S. prisons.
In her speech introducing the amendment on the House floor, Blackburn said that even though it is in writing that federal funds can’t be used to transport Guantanamo detainees to U.S. prisons, the Obama administration has found “pots of money” to circumvent protections.
“Thomson Correctional Center is ground zero in this debate,” Blackburn said. “My amendment would allow no funds for operations, renovation or construction of the prison. As long as it remains operational, we run the risk of seeing Guantanamo detainees on American soil.”
Wolf then took the floor in support of the Blackburn amendment, but it was shot down by a vote of 148-253.
Seventeenth District Congresswoman Cheri Bustos, D-East Moline, spoke in opposition to the attempt to derail the prison’s opening. She said the entire Illinois delegation banded together against the amendment.
“This was a ridiculously misguided attempt to continue a game of politics that risks not only the economy of our region, but the lives of federal corrections officers,” said Bustos, who represents Whiteside and Carroll counties.
The prison is expected to bring 1,100 jobs when fully operational.
Bustos’ office said it was surprised by what it called “a desperate attempt” to deny the $53.7 million in funding earmarked for the prison’s opening by the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Prisons in March.