Obama administration believes repatriating five of the worst Taliban operatives will make the extremist group reconsider jihad.
The Obama administration is redefining the War on Terrorism as a war on Al-Qaeda, with Vice President Biden going so far as to say that the "Taliban, per se, is not our enemy.” In June, Afghan President Hamid Karzai confirmed that the U.S. was negotiating with the Taliban, and talks have reportedly gone on since at least November 2010. Now, President Obama is even thinking about releasing five high-level Taliban leaders to Qatar from Guantanamo Bay, despite their direct ties with Al-Qaeda and the military’s warnings that they are likely to rejoin the violent jihad.
Marc Thiessen reviewed the biographies of the five Taliban leaders that the U.S. may set free. Mullah Mohammed Fazl was the chief of staff of the Taliban army and worked with Osama Bin Laden’s 055 Brigade. Abdul Haq Wasiq, the Taliban’s deputy intelligence minister, built alliances with terrorist groups and arranged for Al-Qaeda to train Taliban fighters. The governor of Herat Province, Mullah Khairullah Khairkhwa, was “directly associated” with Bin Laden, supervising an Al-Qaeda training camp and took part in Taliban dealings with Iran to jointly kill U.S. soldiers.
Mullah Norullah Noori, a former Taliban commander, was involved with senior members of Al-Qaeda and fought alongside the terrorist group. The Joint Task Force-Guantanamo describes him as a Taliban “hardliner.” Muhammad Nabi, a fundraiser for the Taliban, was part of an Al-Qaeda cell. The reason these five leaders are held is because the military believes they will go right back to what they were doing before their imprisonment. Yet, the Obama administration believes that releasing them will improve the chances that the negotiations with the Taliban will be successful.
There have been around six meetings between the U.S. and Taliban representatives in Germany and Doha, Qatar. Among those participating are Mullah Omar’s secretary and Ibrahim Haqqani, the brother of the leader of the Al-Qaeda-tied Haqqani Network. The U.S. was encouraged by the Taliban’s agreement to open up a political office in Qatar, where Sheikh Yousef al-Qaradawi is acting as a "mediator." Qaradawi is a terrorism-supporting, anti-Semitic cleric and leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Qaradawi teaches Muslims that they are required to support the Taliban’s fight against U.S. forces. He preaches "gradualism," a jihadist doctrine based on phases and pragmatism. The Taliban can count on him to lure the U.S. into a favorable deal that permits them to continue towards the goal of Sharia-based governance. Furthermore, the U.S. plans to release the five Taliban leaders into the hands of Qatar. Though the country houses a U.S. base and is referred to as an “ally,” it is far from a true partner in fighting terrorism. When the U.S. asked Qatar to become involved in Libya, it used its influence to help the Islamists.
The Taliban’s willingness to negotiate probably just reflects a shift in strategy, perhaps noticing how much more successful the Muslim Brotherhood has been than Al-Qaeda. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid says, “During the past Taliban regime the government would make some hasty decisions, but now we are careful and deliberate." Don’t mistake this for a change in ideology. In justifying the killing of foreign aid workers, Taliban commander Mohammed Ibrahim Hanafi said, “Our law is still the same old law which was in place during our rule in Afghanistan.”
While the U.S. engages the Taliban and President Karzai engages Iran and encourages anti-Americanism, the Afghan political opposition feels left out. Many of the opposition leaders belonged to the Northern Alliance that fought side-by-side with U.S. forces to oust the Taliban. They have issued a joint statement with Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) complaining about not being included in the talks. They worry about a “back room deal among power brokers so they [the Taliban] would hold some kind of authority and power in an upcoming Afghan government.”
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) says that these ignored opposition leaders represent over 60% of the Afghan population.
“The Obama regime is choosing to now make concessions to the group that helped train for the 9/11 attacks and whose leader proclaimed on Afghan TV recently that the U.S. has been defeated and is now begging them for negotiations,” Rep. Gohmert said.
Supporters of the talks are quick to compare them to how the U.S. engaged the Sunni tribes of Iraq to turn them into partners against the insurgency, but the comparison is incorrect. The Iraqi tribal leaders were not motivated by a desire to establish Sharia-based governance, were backing the “stronger horse” and turned their guns on Al-Qaeda and the insurgents. These talks are not about crushing the Taliban. They're about reaching a settlement with the Taliban. The same Taliban that, unlike the Iraqi tribes, uses truces to establish Sharia enclaves and sanitize the country of modernity, like burning cell phones, computers and televisions, as the Taliban just did in South Waziristan.
The Taliban are theologically committed to jihad and Sharia-based governance and it will not change until it abandons that belief system. The so-called “moderate Taliban” is only less extreme in its tactics. If the Obama Administration thinks that releasing five of the worst Taliban operatives is going to make the extremist group reconsider its jihad, then it is profoundly naïve.
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To get the whole story on why the Obama administration empowers Islamists, read Jamie Glazov’s book, United in Hate: The Left’s Romance with Tyranny and Terror.