As Michael notes, the Obama administration wants to open peace talks with the Taliban and reward them before they even come to the table by releasing senior Taliban leaders held at Guantanamo Bay. Fox News reports that a senior U.S. official has confirmed that “Mullah Mohammed Fazl is among the prisoners being considered for release.”
So who is this Mullah Mohammed Fazl?
Last year, WikiLeaks released a trove of documents it dubbed the “Gitmo Files” with assessments of hundreds of Guantanamo detainees—including Fazl. According to his official record, Fazl is a war criminal who has massacred thousands of people, has close relationships with al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, is involved in narcotics trafficking, and is so senior in the Taliban hierarchy that he once threatened the Taliban’s supreme leader, Mullah Omar. He is considered to pose a “high risk” to American forces and our allies if released.
Here is the official U.S. government assessment of the man Barack Obama wants to put back on the streets (emphasis is mine):
Detainee is assessed to be a HIGH risk, as he is likely to pose a threat to the US, its interests, and allies…. Detainee is an admitted senior official of the Taliban government and army and was last assigned to the position of Deputy Minister of Defense. Detainee also served as Chief of Staff of the Taliban Army and a commander of the 22nd Division. Detainee is wanted by the UN for possible war crimes including the murder of thousands of Shiites. Detainee had operational associations with significant al-Qaida and other extremist personnel. Detainee wielded considerable influence throughout the northern region of Afghanistan and his influence continued even after his capture. If released, detainee would likely rejoin the Taliban and establish ties with anti-Coalition militias (ACM) participating in hostilities against US and Coalition forces in Afghanistan….
Detainee is wanted by the UN for possible war crimes while serving as a Taliban Army Chief of Staff and was noted having a long record of human rights abuses. Detainee was implicated in the murder of thousands of Shiites in northern Afghanistan during the Taliban reign. When asked about the murders, detainee and [ANOTHER DETAINEE] did not express any regret and stated they did what they needed to do in their struggle to establish their ideal state.
Detainee protected a subordinate accused of mass murder. Detainee’s deputy commander, Mullah Dadullah Lang, aka (Commander Dadullah), was reportedly responsible for the murder of 500 Shia, Hazara, and Uzbek civilians, including men, women, and children, during the winter of 2000. Dadullah Lang’s troops seized the people near Sar-i-Pol, AF, trucked them to Baghlan Province, AF, killed them, and threw the bodies into gorges…. After Mullah Omar found out about the massacre, he ordered Dadullah Lang to be disarmed and brought to Kandahar to explain his actions. Detainee vouched for Dadullah Lang, reportedly telling Supreme Leader of the Taliban Mullah Muhammad Omar that if Dadullah Lang was disarmed, detainee would disarm Mullah Omar. (Analyst Note: Detainee was directly subordinate to Mullah Omar. Detainee’s threat directly against the Supreme Leader of the Taliban indicates he held great authority and power within the Taliban)….
Detainee was reportedly involved in Taliban narcotics trafficking activities….
[Another detainee] stated detainee has continued to spread anti-Afghan government and anti-US messages among detainees at JTF-GTMO [and] lists detainee among several detainees at JTF-GTMO who would likely pose a threat to the Afghan government it released….
Detainee was directly connected to several extremist organizations and facilitated programs supporting the Taliban, including al-Qaida and IMU…. Detainee has specific information relating to several extremist organizations that provide support to the Taliban. Detainee also probably has significant information on Taliban and al-Qaida personnel still active today.
This is the man the Obama administration wants to release—not in return for any concession on the part of the Taliban, mind you, but as a confidence building measure before any talks even begin. Based on this assessment, Mullah Mohammed Fazl is a mass murderer who should not be released under any circumstances. He should be tried by military commission and spend the rest of his life in custody at Guantanamo Bay.