When President Obama agreed to exchange five members of the Afghan Taliban for U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who had been captured after deserting his colleagues, critics warned the terrorists eventually would return to their jihad against the United States.
On Tuesday, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid announced the five released from Guantanamo Bay in 2014 have joined the group’s political office in Qatar.
The five are said to be involved in peace negotiations, but they all are close to founder and hard-line leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, the Associated Press noted.
“The Taliban are bringing back their old generation, which means the Taliban have not changed their thinking or their leadership,” said Haroun Mir, a political analyst in the Afghan capital, according to the AP.
Jihad Watch Director Robert Spencer recalled that who warned that the released Taliban prisoners would return to Taliban leadership “were mocked and vilified as ‘Islamophobes.'”
One of the five is Mohammed Fazl, who was accused by Human Rights Watch of overseeing the deaths of thousands of minority Shiites in 2000.
Khairullah Khairkhwa was close to al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.
Abdul Haq Wasiq was the Taliban’s deputy intelligence minister, and Mullah Norullah Nori, once described as the most significant Taliban leader held at Gitmo, fought U.S.-led coalition forces in northern Afghanistan.
The fifth, Mohammad Nabi Omari, was a Taliban communications officer.
Bergdahl ‘put thousands in danger’
Bergdahl was captured by the Taliban in 2009 after deserting a U.S. army base.
Last year, he was given a dishonorable discharge and fined $1,000 on charges of desertion and misbehavior.
Considerable resources were poured into finding Bergdahl, and soldiers in his platoon claimed there was an increase in attacks against U.S. forces in Paktika Province after his disappearance.
Retired general Michael Flynn blamed the deaths of six soldiers on the search for Bergdahl, although the Army’s investigations did not report that any of the slain soldiers were part of the search.
Cody Full, a member of Bergdahl’s platoon, said Bergdahl “knowingly deserted and put thousands of people in danger because he did.”
“We swore to an oath and we upheld ours. He did not.”