Yesterday, Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby cast a positive light on jihadists from the Taliban and al Qaeda who have been released from Guantanamo and have returned to wage jihad. The topic came up in the discussion of an airstrike that killed Mullah Abdul Rauf Khadim, a senior Taliban commander who was detained at Guantanamo from 2001 to 2007, released to Afghan custody and freed in 2009, and returned to the Taliban shortly afterward to assume the role of a senior military commander up until his defection to the Islamic State earlier this year. Below is the exchange, from the Pentagon’s transcript:
Q: Why was he released?REAR ADM. KIRBY: Joe, I don’t have the records on this guy from — from Guantanamo Bay.
Yes, he was a detainee. He was released in 2007. He was released to Kabul.
The other thing that we’ve said — and this is another great example, because we had a long, you know, discussion not too long ago about the — the recidivism and particularly the issue of this — this one individual who reengaged there in Qatar, and we said that they return to the battlefield and to the fight at their own peril. Mr. Kadim is proof of that.
Kirby’s statement that Khadim’s death should be viewed as a positive is cold comfort to the hundreds of Afghans, Americans, and Coalition personnel who were killed while Khadim commanded forces in southern Afghanistan. The jihadist was able to operate for more than six years as a top level Taliban commander and has the blood of thousands on his hands.
Maybe this is a way to get around those pesky laws and long trials and get to the killin’.
‘So what if they may be responsible for more death and destruction before we find them. They’ll be as dead as Osama. When we find them. Eventually.’
The Defense Department announced on Nov. 20 that five detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba were transferred to two nations. Three of the detainees were transferred to the Government of Georgia, while the other two were transferred to Slovakia.
Four of the transferred detainees are Yemenis: Abdel Ghalib Ahmad Hakim, Hussein Salem Mohammed, Slah Muhamed Salih al Zabe, and Abdul Khaled Ahmed Sahleh al Bedani.
Hisham Bin Ali Bin Amor Sliti, the fifth detainee transferred, is a Tunisian.
All five of the detainees were evaluated by President Obama’s Guantanamo Review Task Force, which was established in January 2009. The task force concluded its work one year later and in its January 2010 report recommended that all five be transferred.
The task force did not conclude that the men should be outright released, but instead said they should be transferred outside of the US to a country that “will implement appropriate security measures.” That is, the task force concluded that all five detainees pose some level of risk, but not enough to keep them in US custody indefinitely.