Since they were swapped for U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl last year, five former Taliban commanders are now living in quarters quite unlike their Guantanamo Bay jail cells. The leaders, known as the Taliban Five or the Guantanamo Five, are getting “royal treatment” in Qatar, the Persian Gulf state where they were sent following the swap, according to Newsweek.
Mullah Mohammad Fazl, Mullah Norullah Noori, Muhammad Nabi, Khirullah Said Wali Khairkhwa and Abdul Haq Wasiq were mid- to high-ranking Taliban officials who were captured by U.S. forces in the early days of the war in Afghanistan, according to CNN. Critics of the Bergdahl swap said the men are dangerous and will eventually return to attack the U.S. once their year of surveillance in Qatar is up. One intelligence agency said one of the men contacted the Taliban after his release, according to the network. More far-fetched rumors -- that three of the former detainees were now commanders with the Islamic State group -- were given a “Pants on Fire” rating by the fact-checking site Politifact.
But the five men are enjoying cushy conditions in Qatar, Newsweek reported. None of the five are from the wealthy Gulf nation and they are feeling “homesick,” according to the publication. Their handlers have accommodated them by allowing them to each bring five other Taliban families to help them in Doha, the capital of Qatar where the men are staying. About 35 Taliban households with connections to the Guantanamo Five are in Doha, according to Newsweek.
Some of the former detainees aren’t content. At least two of them want to return to fight in Afghanistan. Some current commanders fear a leadership struggle should the men eventually return.
Fazl, who is either 46 or 47 years old, was identified as the Taliban deputy minister of defense during the war in Afghanistan, NPR reported. Noori, around the same age, was a senior military commander in Mazar-e-Sharif, a strategic city in the north of Afghanistan. Nabi, either 45 or 46 years old, was a “senior Taliban official in multiple leadership roles.” Khairkhwa, either 46 or 47 years old, was the minister of interior, governor of Herat and a military commander. Wasiq, either 42 or 43 years old, was the Taliban deputy minister of intelligence.