Former President Barack Obama didn’t listen to Pentagon officials when they told him Taliban mullah Khairullah Khairkhwa was too dangerous to release. Instead, he freed the group that came to be known as the ‘Gitmo five’ — Khairkhwa alongside four of his buddies — from the Guantanamo Bay prison in 2014 in exchange for a U.S. soldier who deserted his post.
Obama all but guaranteed that Khairkhwa and the four other men would be sent to Qatar, where their movements would be restricted and where they could do no harm. As it turns out, the Taliban isn’t as trustworthy as the former president thought.
Now, Khairkhwa has resurfaced as one of the masterminds behind the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul, the New York Post reported Tuesday.
How Khairullah Khairkhwa, released from Guantanamo Bay, planned Taliban's return https://t.co/4zDK6Byqeo
— Hindustan Times (@HindustanTimes) August 17, 2021
The Taliban leaders didn’t grow any fonder of America while they were locked up. After their release, the Taliban five made contact with active Taliban extremists in Afghanistan and vowed they would return to fight against America.
The Gitmo five were among the Taliban representatives negotiating for peace in Afghanistan, which eventually led to the U.S. withdrawing troops in the region. Khairkhwa has said in the past that the Taliban wouldn’t launch a military offensive if Biden withdrew troops from Afghanistan. Shockingly, it doesn’t appear that the Taliban has kept its word.
In 2001, Khairkhwa was accused of collaborating with Osama bin Laden, and was subsequently arrested. When Obama released him, Khairkhwa wasn’t shy about wanting to establish strict Islamic rule in Afghanistan — and that’s just what he’s doing.
The Obama-Biden administration was notoriously lax on their treatment of Gitmo prisoners. Former President Donald Trump tightened the reins during his time in office, but Biden has reinstated Obama’s policy of releasing dangerous prisoners.
There’s no telling what would’ve happened in Afghanistan had Khairkhwa and his cronies been left in prison — but it wasn’t hard to predict that a man with clear ties to infamous terrorists would return to extremism after prison.