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Critics of Taliban release worry prisoners will re-enter insurgency

Sunday, June 01, 2014 - 01:52

June 1 - In both the U.S. and Afghanistan, critics of the Taliban prisoner swap that led to the release of a U.S. army sergeant worry the freed detainees will re-enter the Islamist insurgency. Mana Rabiee reports.

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It was the tiny Gulf emirate of Qatar that helped the U.S. negotiate with the Taliban the release of Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. Held by the Taliban in Afghanistan for nearly five years, until Saturday. Qatar helped negotiate a prisoner swap. Bergdahl's freedom…for handing over to Qatar five high-risk Taliban detainees in Guantanamo, Cuba. Among them...Mohammed Fazl, a senior Taliban commander; Allegedly responsible for the killing of thousands of minority Shi'ite Muslims in Afghanistan. The five men were flown to Qatar on a U.S. Air Force C-17 cargo plane. Their families were reportedly flown in from Afghanistan. As part of the transfer deal, the men's activities in Qatar will be monitored. They face a minimum one-year ban from travel. But critics worry the senior Taliban figures could rejoin the insurgency when restrictions are eventually lifted. SOUNDBITE: SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ) SAYING: "These are the hardest of the hardcore. These are the highest high-risk people. And others that we have released have gone back into the fight. That's been documented. And it's disturbing to me that the Taliban are the ones that named the people to be released." That sentiment was echoed on the streets of Kabul, where some residents are also uneasy about the release. (SOUNDBITE)(Dari) HASSIBULLAH SAMEEM, A RESIDENT OF KABUL, SAYING: "We are concerned about this kind of dealing. Such issues will cause insecurity and fighting. It will be a big challenge to our Afghan security forces that still are not well-equipped and don't have air support." (SOUNDBITE)(Dari) MOHAMMAD RAHIM, RESIDENT OF KABUL, SAYING: "This will have a negative impact in our country at this time that Americans withdraw their forces. Those people will join the Taliban ranks again." The Taliban deny the prisoners would return to battle and the U.S. hopes the prisoner exchange might lead to an eventual breakthrough with the Islamist insurgents.

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Critics of Taliban release worry prisoners will re-enter insurgency

Sunday, June 01, 2014 - 01:52