The Taliban announced its “caretaker” government on Tuesday, and the list of top officials included some familiar names: four of the five Taliban leaders released from prison by President Barack Obama in exchange for kidnapped U.S. Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl in 2014.
The fifth member of Obama’s “Taliban Five,” Mohammad Nabi Omari, was installed as the Taliban’s governor for Khost province last month. Every single cabinet official named on Tuesday was a member of the Taliban, and almost all of them are members of the dominant Pashtun ethnic group, despite the extremist group’s pledges to form an “inclusive” government.
Obama’s swap of the Taliban Five for Bergdahl was highly controversial in 2014 as the president ignored recommendations from the U.S. military and intelligence community that alternatives to releasing the “high-risk” Taliban commanders were available and arguably broke the law in his headlong rush to complete the trade without consulting Congress.
Several of the Taliban Five were deeply involved in human rights violations and international crimes, including mass murder, ethnic cleansing, and the opium trade. At least two of them, Wasiq and Khairkhwa, have ties to al-Qaeda.
Obama’s assurances that the Taliban Five would not return to the battlefield against U.S. forces in Afghanistan evaporated in a matter of months as several of them quickly resumed “threatening activities” despite supposedly being kept under supervision by the government of Qatar. By 2018, all of them held prominent positions with the Taliban’s “regime-in-exile” in Qatar (Breitbart).