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Mastermind Behind Taliban Takeover Was Released by Obama from Gitmo in Exchange for US Deserter

Khairullah Khairkhwa was one of five Taliban released from the U.S. prison on Guantanamo Bay in exchange for U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool)

Adding insult to injury, the man who helped mastermind the Taliban's rapid takeover of Afghanistan, which stunned President Joe Biden, had been held at Guantanamo Bay for 12 years until he was freed in 2014 by then-President Barack Obama as part of a prisoner exchange for an American deserter.

The New York Post reports Khairullah Khairkhwa, a friend of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, was the mastermind behind the Taliban's lightning offensive which recaptured the country in just seven days.

Khairkhwa, a Taliban mullah, had been the Taliban's interior minister in Afghanistan. He was captured after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C., and was held at the U.S. terrorism detention site in Guantanamo Bay (Gitmo) from 2002 to 2014, according to Fox News

After Khairkhwa and the four other Taliban commanders were released from Gitmo in exchange for U.S. Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl, they were flown to Qatar.

They were the only detainees classified as "forever prisoners" to be released without the parole board's approval, according to the Post.

In fact, Obama released Khairkhwa and the others from Gitmo even though the Pentagon had classified him as too dangerous to release. 

Late Arizona Sen. John McCain had criticized Obama's release of the five men, telling CBS's Face the Nation at the time, they "are the hardest of the hard-core. These are the highest high-risk people."

It is unknown if then-Vice President Biden agreed with Obama's decision to release the five detainees, but he recently released a high-value terrorist detainee of his own from Gitmo. 

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As CBN News reported a few years ago, soon after they were freed, the "Taliban 5" promised to return to their country in order to fight Americans. They were successful in making contact with some of their fellow militants in Afghanistan and even used Qatar as their base to re-establish their regime. All five were close to the hard-line founder of the radical Islamic Taliban movement, Mullah Mohammed Omar.

All the while, the Obama-Biden administration turned a blind eye to disturbing intelligence reports to their actions, the Post reports. 

Last February, Khairkhwa participated in talks with President Biden's Afghan envoy Zalmay Khalilzad in Moscow, where the Taliban representatives negotiated the final agreement for the U.S. military withdrawal, which would return the Taliban to power after two decades. 

"I started jihad to remove foreign forces from my country and establish an Islamic government, and jihad will continue until we reach that goal through a political agreement," Khairkhwa said at the summit.

According to the Post, Khairkhwa promised not to launch a military offensive if Biden committed to removing all U.S. forces. He also promised that there would be no retaliation against Afghans who had worked for the U.S. or the Afghan government. 

With the successful takeover of the country completed, there are reports that the Islamic extremists have started going door to door to kill Afghans who cooperated with the U.S. 

Even while promising to be more moderate in its policies and respect women's rights, the jihadist fighters shot and killed a woman for not wearing a burka in public, according to Fox News

As CBN News reported in July, the Biden administration transferred Abdullatif Nasser, its first terrorist suspect out of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp to Morocco, as another step toward closing the military prison. 

The U.S. State Department said Biden's administration would continue "a deliberate and thorough process" aimed at reducing the detainee population at Guantánamo "while also safeguarding the security of the United States and its allies."

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the administration was considering all available options for safely transferring out the last detainees and shutting down Guantanamo.

In his address to the nation on Monday, a defiant Biden staunchly defended his decision to pull all U.S. troops from Afghanistan, insisting that after two decades it is no longer in America's national security interest.

"The truth is, this did unfold more quickly than we had anticipated," Biden admitted. 

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