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The Afghan government supports the transfer of the prisoners to Qatar; however, it says the men must not be detained once in Qatar, but only their movements restricted.

“Our position is that if the United States decides to transfer the Afghan detainees in Guantanamo to Qatar so that they can reunite with their families, and if that is what the detainees agree to, which they have, then the Afghan government has no problem with that,” said Mr. Mosazai, the Afghan government spokesman.

The detainees are unlikely to be released this year, said Bruce Riedel, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

“The Afghan Taliban prisoners are held in Guantanamo, which is the toxic dark hole of American foreign policy that no American politician will be able to touch, certainly not in an election year, and find a way to get those five prisoners out,” he said at the Brookings Institution.

Meanwhile, al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in an audio message railed against the Karzai government’s supporters.

“They are more despicable than the infidels,” said al-Zawahiri, who assumed the mantle of al Qaeda’s leader following the death of Osama bin Laden in a U.S. commando raid in Pakistan in May.

Al Qaeda uses the term infidels to describe non-Muslims and foreigners.