By Melanie Batley
One of the five senior Taliban leaders released in the prisoner swap for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl played a role in al-Qaida’s strategy for the 9/11 terrorist attacks, The Weekly Standard reported.
Mohammad Fazl, who served as the Taliban’s army chief of staff and deputy defense minister, worked with one of Osama bin Laden’s chief lieutenants to execute a military offensive against the Northern Alliance on Sept. 10, 2001, according to the Standard.
The successful operation was a key part of the strategy to ensure that opposition to the Taliban in Afghanistan was weakened. The Taliban was preparing for an anticipated American retaliation immediately following 9/11.
A leaked Joint Task Force Guantanamo threat assessment of Fazl said that he met with Abdul Hadi al Iraqi to “immediately coordinate an attack with the Taliban against the Northern Alliance,” according to the Standard.
The attack was to be carried out the day after al-Qaida assassinated Northern Alliance commander Ahmed Shah Massoud in a suicide bombing so as to weaken the opposition’s morale.
The Standard highlighted that the 9/11 Commission said in its final report that the mastermind of the attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, confirmed that the offensive Fazl assisted with was a key part of the strategy to execute the 9/11 attacks.
Despite Fazl’s involvement, the Obama administration has insisted that none of the five detainees that were freed pose any threat to the United States and were not directly involved in the terrorist attacks on the United States.
“These five guys are not a threat to the United States,” former secretary of state Hillary Clinton said during an interview on NBC News last week, the Standard noted.
“They are a threat to the safety and security of Afghanistan and Pakistan. It’s up to those two countries to make the decision once and for all that these are threats to them. So I think we may be kind of missing the bigger picture here. We want to get an American home, whether they fell off the ship because they were drunk or they were pushed or they jumped, we try to rescue everybody.”
Marie Harf, a State Department spokeswoman, also insisted during a June 5 press conference that none of the former detainees posed any threat to the United States.
The Daily Beast reported that John Brennan, director of the CIA and previously Obama’s chief counterterrorism adviser, has argued that the “Taliban Five” were primarily focused on fighting against Afghans and did not have a record of attacking Americans, the Standard reported.
Meanwhile, each of the other four members of the Taliban Five were also part of the alliance with the Taliban that enabled al-Qaida to carry out the 9/11 terrorist attacks, according to the Standard.
The magazine said that the leaked files and court documents show that the U.S. government believes that Khairullah Khairkhwa was linked to bin Laden and oversaw one of al-Qaida’s main training camps in Afghanistan.
Abdul Haq Wassiq served as the deputy director of intelligence for the Taliban and “was in charge of handling relations with al-Qaida-related foreign fighters and their training camps in Afghanistan,” the Standard reported, citing the United Nations. The camps were a base where al-Qaida trained terrorists for its plots against America.
Norullah Noori, like Fazl, was also a Taliban military commander and coordinated operations with al-Qaida’s paramilitary forces.
The leaked documents also concluded that Mohammad Nabi Omari planned attacks with al-Qaida against coalition forces.