irony of fate: Former Guantanamo Bay prisoner of Afghan Taliban holds key talks with Trump team
DOHA (TRT World): Mullah Muhammad Nabi Omari was held for nearly twelve years in the notorious Guantanamo Bay prison, and is today part of the Taliban delegation that met with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for the Afghan peace talks.
On September 13, 2020, a former US Guantanamo detainee, Faiz Mohammad Ahmed Al Kandari, tweeted out a photo of Mullah Mohammad Nabi Omari in a meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during the negotiations between the US and Taliban. Kandari now lives in Kuwait after being released from Guantanamo in 2016 without ever being charged with war crimes.
He wrote: “I still remember when he (Mullah Muhammad Nabi Omari) said to me while we were in the sixth camp, pointing to the sun: My certainty of relief and victory is greater than my certainty that this sun is rising, it is a matter of time, and the consequence is for the righteous.”
So who is Omari?
Nabi Omari, is one of the “Taliban Five”, an influential member of the Taliban.
Nabi Omari was born in Khost, Afghanistan, in 1968. He arrived at the infamous US Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba in 2002 and stayed there nearly 12 years in extrajudicial detention.
In 2014, he was transferred to Qatar together with four other men known as the “Taliban Five” in an exchange for US soldier, Bowe Bergdahl, who had been a Taliban prisoner since 2009.
According to the swap deal brokered by the Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad, these five Taliban members, Mohammad Nabi Omari, Abdul Haq Wasiq, Mullah Norullah Noori, Mullah Mohammad Fazl and Khirullah Said Wali Khairkhwa, had to stay in Qatar for one year as a condition of their release.
Today, he is among the delegation taking part in the Afghan peace talks with the Trump administration.
The five men were senior leaders in the Taliban, according to journalist Tahir Khan who tracks the Taliban, and they enjoyed “the trust of the foot soldiers.”
They had reportedly made great sacrifices for the movement and were “trusted friends” of the Taliban’s founder, Mullah Mohammed Omar, an official said.
Trump administration U-turn
In 2015, before becoming president, Donald Trump criticised the prisoner exchange agreement by calling released Taliban members “five killers,” and said they were now “back on the battlefield.”
Pompeo, a Congressman for the Republican party at the time, said: “I’ve seen nothing that causes me to believe these folks are reformed or [have] changed their ways or intend to re-integrate to society in ways to give me any confidence that they will not return in trying to do harm to America.”
Sen. Lindsey O. Graham wrote: “they have American blood on their hands and surely as night follows day, they will return to the fight,” in a letter to leaders of the Senate Armed Services Committee in 2014.
“In effect, we released the ‘Taliban Dream Team,’ Graham added.
Fast forward six years and Donald Trump is president and his administration, particularly his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, is sitting across the table deciding the future of Afghanistan with a man they said could never be reformed.