The Taliban announced the appointment of Mohammad Nabi Omari, a former Guantanamo Bay Naval Base (GTMO) detainee who has close ties to al-Qaeda, as governor of Khost province in Afghanistan, days after the Islamic military group has taken control of the country and is in the process of establishing a government.
According to congressional records, Omari was part of a five-prisoner trade under the Obama administration in 2014 in return for the captured U.S. Army sergeant. Bowe Bergdahl, who was held by the Taliban for years after leaving a US military base in 2009. The released Taliban prisoners from the GTMO, also known as the “Taliban Five,” have joined the group’s political bureau in Qatar after their release, according to a statement by a spokesperson for the Taliban at the time.
According to declassified documents, the five released prisoners were senior Taliban leaders, and Omari specifically served as the Taliban’s communications and border chief.
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In a 2014 letter to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Lindsey Graham, RS.C., criticized the Obama administration for releasing the “Taliban Dream Team”. “They have American blood on their hands and surely night follows day they will return to battle. Indeed, we have freed the ‘Taliban Dream Team’.”
Bill Roggio, senior researcher at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, tweeted on Tuesday that Omari is a leader of the Haqqani Network, a Sunni Islamist militant organization, a former GTMO detainee and has “close ties to [al] Qaeda. ”
Omari, along with other members of the Five Taliban, also appeared to be involved in the Trump administration’s 2020 negotiations for Afghan peace.
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Khost province, which will be under Omari rule, includes Khost, the largest city in the southeast of the country, and borders neighboring Pakistan. The Taliban have accumulated power and control over Afghanistan since the rapid withdrawal of US-led NATO forces from the country.
The United States is still working to evacuate the Americans and their Afghan partners before the August 31 deadline agreed by the Taliban for a full withdrawal.
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The Defense Ministry did not provide a statement in response to Fox News’ request for comment regarding the detention and release of Omari’s GTMO.
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