Taliban Rising

Arnold Ahlert is a former NY Post op-ed columnist currently contributing to JewishWorldReview.com, HumanEvents.com and CanadaFreePress.com. He may be reached at atahlert@comcast.net.


Taliban-fighters-in-Afgha-001While Obama administration officials and their media allies are furiously attempting to spin the swap of U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl for five high-level Taliban terrorists in their favor, the other side of the equation is weighing in as well. Taliban leaders are expressing jubilation over the trade, hailing it as a major recognition of their status and boon to their cause. The Taliban is seeking to solidify legitimacy as a political force in Afghanistan in the face of the imminent U.S. drawdown, after which less than 10,000 soldiers will remain in the country. With the Bergdahl exchange, the Taliban has achieved a major propaganda victory that will further aid its ascendancy in the country — on top of the benefit the return of several of its top operatives will offer as a consequence of the deal.

Details of the internal assessment of the Bergdahl swap come from a TIME magazine interview with two Taliban commanders. “This is a historic moment for us. Today our enemy for the first time officially recognized our status,” one commander said. “[T]hese five men are more important than millions of dollars to us.” When asked if this exchange would inspire the Taliban to capture other Americans, he responded succinctly. “Definitely,” he said. “It’s better to kidnap one person like Bergdahl than kidnapping hundreds of useless people,” the commander added, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. “It has encouraged our people. Now everybody will work hard to capture such an important bird.”

According to the magazine, the Taliban was well-prepared to engage in a media campaign of their own with regard to the swap. Those who were selected to hand Bergdahl over rehearsed messages they wished to deliver to the American public, and a videographer was assigned to cover the exchange to help shape the narrative. The white tunic and trousers that Bergdahl wore were also part of the equation, as a tailor was commissioned to create the clothes for the event as a “gesture of respect.”

TIME allowed a second Taliban commander affiliated with the Haqqani network that was holding Bergdahl captive to humanize the terrorist organization. “You know we are also human beings and have hearts in our bodies,” the commander said. “We are fighting a war against each other, in which [the Americans] kill us and we kill them. But we did whatever we could to make [Bergdahl] happy.”

The resulting propaganda video documenting the exchange also shows a woven scarf draped across Bergdahl’s shoulders. The commander says it was a parting gift, further explaining that Bergdahl had made several friends among his captors. “We wanted him to return home with good memories,” the commander said. Shortly thereafter, the video also shows something else that accrues mightily to the interests of the Taliban: the hero’s welcome the five released detainees received when they landed in Qatar, followed by a jubilant raising of the Taliban flag.

Despite its negotiations with the Taliban to free Bergdahl, the White House initially refused to define the group’s status. When asked Monday if the Taliban was a terrorist group, outgoing White House Press Secretary Jay Carney dodged the question. “We don’t get to choose our enemies when we go to war,” Carney responded. “We regard the Taliban as an enemy combatant in a conflict that has been going on, in which the United States has been involved for more than a decade. In this case–as you know we dealt with the Qataris in order to secure [Bergdahl’s] release–it was absolutely the right thing to do.”

The semantical gymnastics continued on Tuesday, when White House National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden explained that a 2002 executive order added the Taliban to the list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGT), while its designation as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) is omitted from the list compiled by the State Department. Why remains a mystery, considering the fact that both the Pakistani Taliban and the Haqqani Network thought to be holding Bergdahl are on the list.

Unsurprisingly, the administration chose to sidestep the issue, choosing to push the narrative that Bergdahl was a prisoner of war (POW), rather than a hostage. “Sgt. Bergdahl was not a hostage, he was a member of the military who was detained during the course of an armed conflict,” Hayden continued. “The United States does not leave a soldier behind based on the identity of the party to the conflict… It was a prisoner exchange. We’ve always done that across many wars. With the Germans. The Japanese. The North Koreans.”

Such an effort is at odds with reality. In the five years Bergdahl was missing, the Pentagon never listed him as a POW. When he first disappeared, he was listed as “duty status whereabouts unknown.” Two days later it was changed to “missing/captured,” where it remained until his release. Detainees at Guantanamo Bay have never been referred to as POWS either, largely reflecting the reality that terrorists are international gangsters rather than soldiers of a nation state.

The five released Taliban leaders were initially reported to be under house arrest in Qatar, but this was later discovered to be untrue. “All five men received medical checks and they now live with their families in an accommodation facility in Doha,” a Gulf source, who declined to be identified, told Reuters Tuesday. “They can move around freely within the country.” Moreover, officials in the U.S. intelligence community note that Qatar has a long track record of turning a blind eye to terror financing taking place in the emirate, and that they failed to keep track of a Gitmo detainee sent there at end of the Bush administration. “We know that many wealthy individuals in Qatar are raising money for jihadists in Syria every day,” a senior U.S. intelligence official told The Daily Beast. “We also know that we have sent detainees to them before, and their security services have magically lost track of them.”

In other words, while the Obama administration continues to tout the merits of the deal, the deal itself has unraveled—a reality that further enhances the status of the Taliban, which poses greater danger to Americans in the process.

The Weekly Standard’s Thomas Joscelyn outlines exactly why, noting that Berghdal was swapped for “five of the most dangerous Taliban commanders in U.S. custody.” Former Bush administration Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey explains the perilous implications of releasing such men, noting that even as the president is withdrawing troops from Afghanistan in a way that will purportedly not jeopardize the safety of those left behind until 2016, he has provided the Taliban with skilled strategic planners. He further notes that, despite the administration’s stated objective of separating the Taliban from al Qaeda, he has freed men with close ties to that organization — dating back prior to 9/11.

The Diplomat’s Zachary Keck attempts to save the Obama administration, insisting that the details of swap itself are only tangential to the bigger picture. He contends the larger strategy behind the deal is the Obama administration’s attempt to implement a “new, more unilateral tone to its Afghan policy,” brought about in large part by the lame duck presidency of Hamid Karzai. Thus, it is necessary to build trust and goodwill with the Taliban. “With the prisoner swap agreement out of the way, the U.S. and the Taliban are likely beginning to pursue these more substantive talks. The U.S. side is undoubtedly hoping to persuade the Taliban to end the insurgency and join the Afghan government in some capacity.”

Keck goes further, insisting the U.S. has won the war in Afghanistan, with “victory” consisting of eliminating the nation as a safe haven for al Qaeda. He believes the Obama administration will eventually allow the Taliban to resume power in that nation, as long as they deny al-Qaeda and other transnational terrorist groups a safe haven there. “This is an example of what President Obama meant when he discussed trying to hit singles and doubles rather than swinging for the fences,” Keck concludes.

Sadly, he is probably right. Last Sunday Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel admitted as much, characterizing the prisoner swap as a vehicle “that can produce an agreement,” with the Taliban. Much like Obama’s affinity for the Muslim Brotherhood, or his administration’s latest decision to work with a Palestinian “unity” government that includes Hamas, this appalling level of indifference regarding the true nature of the Taliban will undoubtedly be portrayed as “21st century” diplomacy. Furthermore, allowing all the hard-won gains in Afghanistan to be squandered exactly as they have been in Iraq will undoubtedly be hailed as a “breakthrough,” despite the reality that the Obama administration is on the verge of doing something no administration in history has ever done before: withdraw from two different wars on schedule.

Angry Republicans have rightly wondered what message freeing five high-level Taliban thugs for one possible deserter tells the terrorists. They would be far better served wondering what the mockery of over ten years of American blood and treasure in exchange for “singles and doubles” that include a possible re-instatement of the Taliban tells them.

We know what it told Mullah Mohammad Omar, the Taliban’s spiritual leader. “I extend my heartfelt congratulations to the entire Afghan Muslim nation, all the mujahedeen and to the families and relatives of the prisoners for this big victory,” he said.

Apparently one side in the war on terror still believes in victory. Sadly, as the Obama administration has so amply indicated, it’s not America.

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  • JVictor

    Everyone who had anything to do with executing this horrible deal has aided and abetted a known enemy of the United States of America. They all need to be charged with treason–starting with the President. It’s time to stop the madness coming out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

    • EdytaHusseinmuo

      like
      Jacqueline implied I’m taken by surprise that a mom can earn $8130 in 1 month
      on the computer . see post F­i­s­c­a­l­p­o­s­t­.­C­O­M­

      • Bklyn Farmer

        I bet you mom earned $8130 a month on the computer, coach, breakfast table, recliner, sofa, carpet, sink, stairs, refrigerator……….

  • Elseebee

    There is one sentence in the first paragraph that stops my heart every time I read it in any article- “the imminent U.S. drawdown, after which less than 10,000 soldiers will remain in the country.”. So, let’s see if I’ve got this right. Obama declares a troop withdrawal as end of the Afghan war this year and we all just ignore the 9,000 sitting ducks he plans to leave behind? Bring them ALL home!

    • SCREW SOCIALISM

      Do you think that trading one American deserter and traitor for 5 talibanazis was a good deal?

      • Elseebee

        No, they should have all stayed right where they were until they rotted. I thought Obummer had done some pretty despicable things before, but this one takes the cake. He says we “leave no man behind”, but this article points out that he plans to leave 7,000+ until all the political campaigns are over.

    • Americana

      That decision to leave American forces behind is not made solely by the President. That is also a strategic choice that is analyzed, recommended and endorsed — or NOT — by the Joint Chiefs, the CIA, the State Department. Each of those would have concurred w/the President’s choice or we would hear dissenting voices about doing so.

      • fiddler

        Why I KNOW! But if it were Bush I wonder if your opinion would be consistent? Find a loophole for this president wherever you can find one. Lies are not lies and 5 murderers for one deserter is equal odds. I wonder if CNN will keep track of those killed by these thugs latter. Naw, they’ll all play “nice” I’m sure. We can trust them.

      • J.B.

        Only Obama’s handlers wanted to free the traitor Bergdahl. NONE of the other agencies or people you listed have EVER called for his release, much less a trade for the five worst islamopithecine terrorists in captivity.

        There is no defense for the Zero’s act. Give it up, OFAtroll.

      • Gislef

        Actually, the decision is made by the President.

        There were dissenting voices against the five-for-one trade to get Bergdahl back. How many of those did we hear on the record?

        • Americana

          Gislef, you misunderstood what I was talking about. Someone earlier in the thread was complaining about 7,000-10,000 American troops being left behind as training troops for the Afghan. That’s who I was referring to by saying this was a joint decision.

          • Americana

            Ooops, I left out the word ‘army’ after ‘Afghan.’ The phrase should have read as training troops for the Afghan army.

  • CurmudgyOne

    I have noticed a conspicuously absent Hillary Clinton in the discussions of this latest Obamadness. She should be asked the question: “What do you think of the release of five senior Taliban planners in return for a sergeant who deserted his post in time of war?”

    • kafir4life

      The Hildabeast is busy having a cankle reduction.

    • Bandido

      She has publicly stated that she approves of the deal.

    • J.B.

      Sergeant? Obama promoted him from Private. Treason pays in the Obamaburo.

      • JayWye

        Comrade Obama is happy with his fellow muslim’s performance. Bergdahl aided our enemy,Comrade Obama’s fellow muslims.
        Now he’s brought Bergdahl back to the US,so he can further help the enemy,by being a cover story for the return of their leadership and key people.

        I had to laugh that these people think that the Taliban are going to keep out al-Qaeda,their fellow muslim jihadis.
        Realistically,they really don’t believe that,that’s just the story they’re sticking to. they don’t care if Al-Qaeda returns or makes more attacks on the US.

  • Walter Sieruk

    That Obama set free those five deadly and dangerous Islamic terrorist chiefs who now are also free to scheme more evil and be behind more murders is an affront to all the is good and right.The State Department even called these five Islamic terrorists a “high risk” to America’s security. Furthermore,in order to obtain the deserter Bergdahl guy who called himself be be a mujahid and also declared himself to be a “warrior for Islam” is an action that is worse then folly.Obama has thus exposed himself, by this swap”deal,” to have extreme incompetence. Obama should be impeached

  • Walter Sieruk

    Just to think about that so much time was washed and worse ye thoses US soldiers died in jihadist murders while looking for that deserter,mostly likely traitor, is something that is actually tragic, Then to make things worse yet Obama pulling off that swap for this guy in letting three Islamic terrorist go free. Obama needs to be impeached.

  • skier

    Mr Ahlert, any idea why Bowe Bergdahl was presented clean shaven, head shaved also no eyebrows? What does that mean in that particular culture?(Haqqani/ Taliban)
    Usually they make prisoners grow a beard. Even Bowe’s father grew a beard.
    A former Navy Seal with sources on the ground, said that it means he was being “loved” sexually by another dude. He also mentioned Special Ops having constant surveillance on Bowe for the past 3 months.

    • J.B.

      Islamopithecine boy toys are ritually shaved down like Bergdahl. So are rock apes on the “pilgrimage” to Mecca. Boydoll had the sword of allah deep up in him for five years.

  • Robert_Fl

    As I have read on another site: “obama did not release the five terrorists to rescue Berdahl, he rescued Bergdahl so that he could release the five terrorists.” What obama did is the very definition of treason.

  • AllisC

    All five have hidden transmitters in them. They will be taken out soon.

    • J.B.

      If only.

    • JayWye

      sorry,that “hidden transmitters” stuff is fantasy. radio frequency tracking doesn’t work that way in real life,it takes some power to make a signal strong enough to be tracked at a distance.

    • Gislef

      Hidden where?

  • Walter Sieruk

    We all may be sure of one thing. That it’s only a matter of time before the newly freed five Taliban thugs will return or re-engage in the bloodly murderous violence of the militant jihadism of Islam, Sura 2:216. 9:111,112. 47;4. For no matter how time they spent at Gitmo nor any amount of good value teachings will cause them to change their heinous, deadly and evils ways. As the ancient Greek poet ,Aristophanes wrote “The wiseist of the wise will never make a crab walk straight.” To explaine this in another way, The Bible teaches in Ecclesiastes 1:15. “That which is crooked cannot be made straight…” [KJV]

  • JayWye

    “The Obama Doctrine can be described in just nine words: Embolden our enemies, undermine our friends, diminish our country.” Frank J. Gaffney Jr.

    Comrade Obama IS the muslim Manchurian Candidate.

    There’s a reason why,post-college,Comrade Hussein traveled to Pakistan,of all places. it’s not because he was a Christian. There’s a reason why Comrade Hussein was aided in getting into college by Saudi money and influence.

    It’s all part of his efforts to weaken the US economically,politically,and militarily.
    “once is accidental,twice is coincidence,three times is enemy action.”

  • Bklyn Farmer

    According to the poll conducted by USA Today and Pew Research, 68 percent of veterans polled said that Obama made the wrong decision. Only 16 percent supported the decision.