Freed Taliban vows: I'll fight Americans again

I’m sure it’s just propaganda and he’s fully intent on living a quiet life of punching schoolgirls in the face or whatever it is that “peaceful” Taliban do.

Operation: Close Gitmo is coming along swimmingly, don’t you think?

One of the five Taliban leaders freed from Guantanamo Bay in return for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s release has pledged to return to fight Americans in Afghanistan, according to a fellow militant and a relative.

“After arriving in Qatar, Noorullah Noori kept insisting he would go to Afghanistan and fight American forces there,” a Taliban commander told NBC News via telephone from Afghanistan.

Noori pushed to return to Afghanistan after learning that the U.S. had provided written assurances that no country would arrest any of the five freed for a year as long as they lived peacefully, one of his relatives told NBC News by telephone from Afghanistan.

I’m betting the lefty spin on this will be some combo of “Why would you trust anything a Talib says?” and “You’d want to fight America too if you’d been locked up for 13 years.” (Those ideas are mutually exclusive, but oh well.) Is Noori dangerous, though? Wide consensus seems to be that Mohammed Fazl is the most lethal member of the group; he’s the one who led that Taliban rampage north of Kabul 15 years ago that has people looking at him for war crimes. By comparison, says the LA Times, Noori may have been a civilian official, not a military commander at all, and the claim that he’s also wanted for war crimes seems unsupported by experts. That’s not what the Gitmo file on him says, though:

Another leaked JTF-GTMO file described Noori as a “senior Taliban military commander” who was engaged in hostilities “against US and Coalition forces in late 2001.” Noori is “wanted by the United Nations (UN) for possible war crimes including the murder of thousands of Shiite Muslims.”

When the JTF-GTMO threat assessment for Noori was authored in February 2008, his brother was still active in the fight against the Coalition. Noori’s “brother is a Taliban commander directing operations against US and Coalition forces in Zabul Province.” Noori himself “remained a significant figure to Taliban supporters” even after his capture…

Declassified memos authored at Guantanamo provide more details about Noori’s al Qaeda ties. Noori “fought alongside al Qaeda as a Taliban military general, against the Northern Alliance” in September 1995. Noori also “hosted al Qaeda commanders” and “met a subordinate of Osama bin Laden to pass a message from the Taliban supreme leader” – that is, a message from Mullah Omar.

Let me give you an uncharacteristic shot of optimism here: If only for political reasons, the White House will be watching these guys like a hawk, no? Obama has two and a half years left and Democrats have a heavy lift in 2016 trying to win the presidency for a third straight term. If Noori ends up back on the battlefield, organizing ambushes of U.S. counterterror troops left behind after the main force withdraws, it’ll be an unholy clusterfark for O and his party. They have every incentive to drone these guys at the first whiff of them taking up arms again. When John Podesta says “I think it’s fair to say that we’ll keep an eye on them,” I think we all understand that more is implied than just passively watching them from afar. Isn’t it?

Oh, by the way: North Korea announced today that it’s taken an American prisoner. Imagine that.