The deepest concerns of critics of President Obama’s decision to release five Taliban commanders from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in exchange for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl may be coming to fruition.
One of the commanders, Noorullah Noori, has plans to return to Afghanistan to resume fighting against the U.S., according to NBC News which spoke to another Taliban commander.
“After arriving in Qatar, Noorullah Noori kept insisting he would go to Afghanistan and fight American forces there,” the commander told NBC News.
Last Saturday, Obama announced the release of Mohammad Fazl, Mohammed Nabi, Khairullah Khairkhwa, Abdul Haq Wasiq and Noori in exchange for Bergdahl, who was captured by the Taliban in eastern Afghanistan after he disappeared from his Army platoon on June 30, 2009.
Some members of Congress blasted the deal, saying they feared that the five Taliban would take up where they left off in their fight against the U.S. Others think that the exchange was a bad deal for the U.S. given reports that Bergdahl deserted his unit.
Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio called the exchange “very troubling,” and said that the deal “may endanger American lives.” Other lawmakers expressed similar reservations over the risk for future violence as well as Obama’s failure to notify them of the planned exchange.
Noori is a senior Taliban commander and an ex-governor of a northern Afghan province, where he was accused of taking part in the 1998 genocide of thousands of Shia muslims.
As part of the deal with the government of Qatar, the details of which have not been made public, Noori and his four compatriots are banned from traveling outside of the country for one year.
They will reportedly be monitored, but are free to move throughout Qatar.
“We thought we may not see them again as once you land in the hands of Americans, it’s difficult to come out alive,” said Noori’s relative, according to the NBC News report. “But it was a miracle that Allah Almighty gave us Bergdahl and we got back our heroes.”
The relative also said that the wives and children of the newly released commanders will travel to Qatar.
“They have spoken to us on telephone and seemed very excited,” the relative said, adding that Qatari government officials greeted the five leaders upon their arrival in the country.
The commanders’ release was celebrated by extremists as well, far different than the mixed response from Americans upon Bergdahl’s release.
“The most important thing for them was the statement of Mullah Mohammad Omar and congratulations them upon their release,” Noori’s relative said, according to NBC. “Khairkhwa told me that like him, the remaining people forgot their years of imprisonment and ordeals after they came to know about Mullah Omar’s statement.”
In a rare statement, Omar called the exchange “a great victory.”