Jun 16, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 38 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
* Khairullah Khairkhwa was once the Taliban’s governor of Herat, the westernmost province in Afghanistan, and he held other political and military roles. JTF-GTMO found that he was “directly associated” with both Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar. Khairkhwa may have helped oversee one of bin Laden’s training camps. And Khair-khwa’s deputy reportedly worked with Al Wafa, a charity that served as a front for al Qaeda. Khairkhwa helped organize meetings between the Iranian regime and the Taliban, during which the Iranians agreed to support the Taliban’s war against the United States.
* Mohammad Nabi Omari “served in multiple leadership roles” for the Taliban. According to JTF-GTMO, he “had strong operational ties to Anti-Coalition Militia (ACM) groups including al Qaeda, the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, and the Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin (HIG), some of whom remain active in ACM activities.” Intelligence cited in the JTF-GTMO files indicates that Omari held weekly meetings with al Qaeda operatives to coordinate attacks against U.S.-led forces.
It is easy to see why the Taliban is confident in its ability to negotiate with Washington. The group secured the release of prominent leaders in U.S. custody under the terms it demanded. There is no good reason for Americans to be similarly confident in the Obama administration’s ability to negotiate with the Taliban. The U.S. government has abandoned its preconditions for talks while the Taliban hasn’t budged. The Taliban has repeatedly said it will not agree to the Obama administration’s goals. And now, five dangerous al Qaeda-linked Taliban commanders have been freed.
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