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Insurgents freed by Obama in exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl now back with Taliban

The five Taliban members the U.S. freed in exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's release are back with the Taliban in Qatar. (J.H. Owen-Pool/Getty Images)

The five members of the Afghan Taliban who former President Barack Obama freed in exchange for the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl have rejoined the Taliban in Qatar, according to The Associated Press.

Their release was considered somewhat controversial when the exchange took place in 2014, as some feared that it was too dangerous to let Taliban leaders linked to American and Afghan deaths out of military prison.

"Taliban are bringing back their old generation, which means the Taliban have not changed their thinking or their leadership," Haroun Mir, an Afghan political analyst, said to the AP.

What are they doing?

Mohammed Fazl, Khairullah Khairkhwa, Abdul Haq Wasiq, Mullah Norullah Nori, and Mohammad Nabi were released from Guantanamo Bay into Qatari custody under security restrictions and a one-year travel ban in 2014 as the price of the release of Bergdahl, who was captured in 2009.

Tuesday, a Taliban spokesman said the five have joined the Taliban's political office in Qatar, where they will be among representatives in peace negotiations between the group and the Afghan government.

Some Afghan representatives believe the status of the five freed prisoners gives weight to the Taliban's peace negotiations.

"These people are respected among all the Taliban," said Hakim Mujahed, a member of the Afghan peace council.

What's their background?

Fazl was arrested in 2002, accused of overseeing the massacre of thousands of Shiites in 2000.

Khairkhwa was reportedly close to the founder of the Taliban, Mullah Omar, as well as Osama bin Laden.

Wasiq is the Taliban's deputy intelligence minister, Nori is a Taliban leader who fought against U.S. forces, and Nabi is a Taliban communications officer.

Former Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), who was head of the House Intelligence Committee at the time of the prisoner exchange, said in 2014 "I have little confidence in the security assurances regarding the movement and activities of the now-released Taliban leaders, and I have even less confidence in this administration's willingness to ensure they are enforced."

"I believe this decision will threaten the lives of American soldiers for years to come," Rogers said.

 

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