The infamous “Gitmo Five” — the supposed Taliban all-stars exchanged for then-Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl — are going to be part of peace negotiations in the Afghan War, according to the Associated Press.
- The five senior Taliban members were long-term detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, before they were released to the government of Qatar on May 31, 2014, in a deal struck by the Obama administration.
- In exchange, Bowe Bergdahl, who was captured in 2009, was released by the Taliban and returned to the U.S. He was later court-martialed and received a dishonorable discharge, fine, and a reduction in rank from sergeant to private.
- Meanwhile, the Taliban five have moved up in the world, since the group’s spokesman told AP they’ve all joined the Taliban political office in Doha.
- Taliban officials met with American diplomat Alice Wells in July, and had a follow-on meeting in October with the State Department’s special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad.
- Talks between the two sides are preliminary, although both have expressed the hope that some negotiated settlement of the Afghan war can be reached. The top American commander in Afghanistan said in July that he was open to the idea of directly speaking with the Taliban.
- Although some told AP they see the use of the five as a sign the Taliban desires peace, it does introduce some awkwardness into the equation: Besides being Guantanamo alumni, all were considered by the Pentagon to be “high risk” detainees.