Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican and a rare member of Washington’s political ranks who survived the horrors of war detention in Vietnam, added that the Guantanamo detainees exchanged for Sgt. Bergdahl are the “hardest of the hard core.”
Among the five are Abdel Haq Wasiq, former deputy chief of intelligence for the Taliban, and Mullah Mohammad Fazl, a former top Taliban military commander accused of overseeing the massacre of thousands of Afghans prior to the 2001 arrival of U.S. forces in the nation. The three others are Khair Ulla Said Wali Khairkhwa, who served as interior minister under the Taliban and has been held at Guantanamo since 2002, and Mullah Norullah Noori and Mohammad Nabi Omari, both accused of playing regional roles for the Taliban.
Under terms of the deal, the Obama administration said Monday, the prisoners were released in the Persian Gulf nation of Qatar, where they face light security restrictions such as a one-year travel ban.
The deal also stoked anger in Afghanistan. Reuters reported that many viewed the exchange as a further sign of a U.S. desire to disengage from the nation as quickly as possible. However, it was not immediately clear whether the Afghan government ultimately supported the release of the five former Taliban commanders.