(EFE).– The Taliban said Tuesday it has deployed five members who were freed in 2015 from the United States military prison in Guantanamo Bay (Cuba), to its political office in Qatar, the Taliban delegation likely to participate in possible future peace negotiations.
The five prisoners were freed from Guantanamo three years ago in exchange for Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl of the US military, who had been captured by the Taliban five years earlier. The five have been living in Qatar since then under restrictions on them travelling to the war zone.
“We confirm that Mullah Muhammad Fazel Mazlum, Mullah Noorullah Noori, Mullah Abdul Haq Wasiq, Mullah Khairullah Khairkhwa, and Maulavi Muhammad Nabi Omari have been appointed as members of the Qatar political office,” Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid told Efe.
Another Taliban source said on condition of anonymity that the group’s leader Haibatullah himself ordered the appointment of the “Taliban Five” – as the former prisoners are known – a decision which comes two weeks after US Special Envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad met members of the Taliban’s Qatar office.
The five new appointees have served in high-ranking positions in the Taliban: Fazel Mazlum was the deputy defense minister during Taliban rule (1996-2001); Noorullah Noori served as governor of northern Balkh province; Abdul Haq Wasiq was deputy intelligence chief; Khairullah Khairkhwa was the interior minister; and Nabi Omari also worked in the military ranks during the Taliban regime in late 1990s.
Their appointment comes after the Taliban’s political head met with Khalilzad in Qatar on Oct. 12 to discuss the possibility of a peaceful resolution of the Afghan conflict, the first such known encounter between the two sides.
The dialogue between the Taliban and the Afghan government until now has been limited to just one official meeting in July 2015, although the talks were suspended after Afghanistan revealed that Mullah Omar, the founder of the insurgent group, had died in 2013.
Since then the insurgents have insisted on negotiating with the US, which has a presence in the country through the NATO’s training and advising mission for Afghan troops as well as anti-terrorist operations.
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