Mon, August 25, 2014 Qatar Brokers U.S. Hostage Release While Funding Terror

Jabhat al-Nusra fighters at a checkpoint. (Photo © Reuters)

Jabhat al-Nusra fighters at a checkpoint. (Photo © Reuters)

Elliot Friedland

An American journalist held hostage in Syria was released on Sunday. Peter Theo Curtis, a freelance reporter, had been held by the al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra for almost two years.

The news comes only days after the brutal beheading of U.S. journalist James Foley by the Islamic State.

The details of how Curtis came to be released are not known, but the U.S. government was not directly involved.

According to the Qatari owned Al-Jazeera network, Qatar was involved in securing the release. A statement issued by their foreign ministry read, "Qatar exerted relentless efforts to release the American journalist, out of Qatar's belief in the principles of humanity and its keenness on the lives of individuals [sic] and their right to freedom and dignity."

This may be an attempt by Qatar to ameliorate its image, particularly in the light of recent criticism of its support for terrorist groups.

Qatar is a regional supporter of Islamist terror. Former U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor Juan Zarante said, "Qatar has now taken its place in the lead of countries that are supporting Al-Qaeda and Al-Qaeda-related groups." These groups include Jabhat al-Nusra, the group which had been holding Peter Theo Curtis captive. A YouTube video released by the al-Qaeda affiliate shows the group thanking their Qatari donors.

Steve Clemons, writing for the Atlantic in June, noted, "Qatar’s military and economic largesse has made its way to Jabhat al-Nusra, to the point that a senior Qatari official told me he can identify al-Nusra commanders by the blocks they control in various Syrian cities."

Clarion Project has previously reported the extensive links between Qatar and terrorism financing of Al-Qaeda and other groups in Syria and Iraq.

Qatar was certainly quick to act as soon as it became involved. Relatives were able to ask a proof-of-life question (the subject of Curtis' PhD thesis) almost immediately. Qatar has previously secured the release of European citizens held by Jabhat al-Nusra. The ease with which they have been able to do so is further evidence of their close links with the organization. 

Qatar was recently accused of directly funding the Islamic State by a German government minister, a charge which Qatar vociferously denied. The German government issued an apology days later, stressing that "Qatar is a partner with whom we work in a variety of ways, even if there are some questions where we don't always have the same opinion."

Germany is one of the top five countries from which Qatar imports merchandised goods. Last year, imports from Germany rose by 22.5%.  

Qatar has also recently come under fire for its open support of the Islamist terrorist group Hamas, with speculation in the intelligence community that the Gulf emirate was responsible for quashing hopes of a ceasefire between Israel and the Muslim Brotherhood affiliate which controls the Gaza strip. A senior Fatah official claimed that the Qatari government threatened to expel Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal from Qatar, where he is hiding out, if he agreed to a ceasefire.

Qatar, therefore, has a clear interest in brokering these kinds of deals in order to protect its reputation and play down the extent of its relationships with terrorist groups.

Rick Brennan, a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation, told the New York Times, "I think what we’re seeing is a shift as the result of the Foley beheading. Qatar has an interest in making certain it is seen as an ally in the war on terror. And beheading Americans or Westerners is not in Qatar’s interest."

Peter Curtis was released into the protective custody of UN Peacekeepers in the Israeli Golan Heights, where he was given a medical checkup. He will be flown from Tel-Aviv's Ben Gurion airport to the United States, where he will be reunited with his family.

His mother released a statement saying, "My heart is full at the extraordinary, dedicated, incredible people, too many to name individually, who have become my friends and have tirelessly helped us over these many months. Please know that we will be eternally grateful."

White House spokesperson Eric Shultz added that U. S. President Barack Obama had been briefed on the successful transfer and "shares in the joy and relief that we all feel now that Theo is out of Syria and safe."


Tue, July 9, 2013 U.S. Refuses to Designate Nigerian Jihadists as Foreign Terror Group

Victims of Boko Haram terror attack in Nigeria. (Photo: © Reuters)

Victims of Boko Haram terror attack in Nigeria. (Photo: © Reuters)

Ryan Mauro and Matt Carmel

The Al-Qaeda-affiliated Boko Haram group in Nigeria is, by any definition, a foreign terrorist organization. The Obama Administration is refusing to designate it as such, arguing that it is not a direct threat to the U.S. In other words, it is choosing appeasement over moral clarity.

Boko Haram is roughly translated to mean that Western education is sacrilegious. The Islamist group is openly committed to “war” against the Federal Republic of Nigeria in order to create a “pure” Islamic country governed by Sharia law. Members often cite the Koranic verse, “anyone who is not governed by what Allah has revealed is among transgressors.”

The terrorist group was created in 2002 in Maiduguri, the capital of Nigeria’s predominantly Muslim Borno State, located in northeastern Nigeria by an Islamist cleric named Muhammad Yusuf, who established a religious complex that consisted of a mosque and an Islamic school. It attracted poor Muslim families throughout Nigeria and in neighboring countries as well. His school quickly pushed a political agenda to “create an Islamic state” in Nigeria, and his complex became a recruiting ground for jihadists against the Nigerian government.

Yusuf was killed after a raid on his headquarters. Boko Haram was then taken over by Abubakar Shekau, who brought it in an even more radical direction. The group had previously attacked security personnel, government buildings and critics, but in 2010, Shekau had the group attack a prison in Bauchi State, freeing hundreds of Boko Haram supporters.

The group then attacked the United Nations building in Abuja, killing 23 and injuring 80 in one of the deadliest attacks in U.N. history. It set off multiple bombs on Christmas. Since August 2011, Boko Haram has planted bombs almost every single week, with churches being a favorite target. Nigeria has been called the most dangerous country in the world for a Christian to live in.

In January 2012, the group carried out its most deadly attack yet, killing more than 180 people in Nigeria’s largest city, Kano. In a video clip released shortly after the attack, Shekau said, “I enjoy killing anyone that Allah commands me to kill – the way I enjoy killing chickens and rams.” Since then, Boko Haram has attacked communication lines and burned down schools. Since 2009, the group has been linked to 3,600 deaths.

Boko Haram’s main spokesperson, Abu Qaqa, publicly said in January 2012 that Boko Haram is a “spiritual follower” of Al-Qaeda. The connection to Al-Qaeda goes far beyond just ideological similarities. The spokesman said, “al-Qaeda are our elder brothers … our leader traveled to Saudi Arabia and met al-Qaeda there. We enjoy financial and technical support from them. Anything we want from them, we ask.”

Boko Haram members have also been trained by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. The group is also linked to al-Shabaab in Somalia, both Al-Qaeda affiliates and both designated as Foreign Terrorist Organizations.

Just like Al-Qaeda, Boko Haram considers its violent jihad to be a matter of religious obligation and will not compromise. Qaqa declared:

“We will consider negotiation only when we have brought the government to their knees … we will only put aside our arms—but we will not lay them down. You don’t put down your arms in Islam, you only put them aside.”

Three senior Boko Haram operatives including Shekau were labeled as “Specially Designated Global Terrorists” in June 2012, but the group as a whole is yet to be designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. To be designated as such, a group must fit three criteria: It must be foreign, engaged in terrorist activity or retain the intent to engage in terrorist activity, and it must threaten the national security of the U.S. or its nationals.

Boko Haram’s qualification for this designation seems simple enough: It is located in Nigeria, carries out terrorist attacks and, as an Al-Qaeda-linked group, obviously threatens the U.S. and its nationals overseas. After all, if Boko Haram has no problem blowing up churches and killing Nigerian Muslims and kidnapping French families, it will have no qualms about killing an American.

The major reason that the U.S. has not designated Boko Haram as a Foreign Terrorist Organization is because it is viewed as only a regional threat. Last month, President Obama attributed the extremism of Boko Haram and other African terrorist groups to how “countries are not delivering for their people and where there sources of conflict and underlining frustrations that have not been adequately dealt with.”

In a major speech in May, President Obama emphasized that “Groups like AQAP [Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula] must be dealt with, but in the years to come, not every collection of thugs that labels themselves al-Qaeda will pose a credible threat to the United States.”

The president also said, “And while we are vigilant for signs that these groups may pose a transnational threat, most are focused on operating in the countries and regions where they are based.”  

By Shekau’s own words, Boko Haram threatens the U.S., its allies and its nationals. In November 2012, he declared, “O America, die with your fury” and pledged to fight “the Jews and the Crusader Christians.” As the Long War Journal summarizes, he “said he and his fighters support jihad in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kashmir, Chechnya, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Somalia, Algeria, Libya, and Mali.”

Groups like the Pakistani Taliban, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and Chechen terrorists could just as easily be seen as regional threats. But, AQAP has inspired violence and advised terrorists who then attacked America. The Pakistani Taliban was behind the near-explosion of a car bomb in Times Square 2010. The Boston bombers likely had a foreign Chechen connection.

At the very least, it cannot be denied that groups like Boko Haram indoctrinate others into committing acts of violence. The threat isn’t from the group’s immediate aims; it’s from the ideology it spreads.

The U.S. stance on Boko Haram is weak, morally bankrupt and counter-productive.

While the U.S. fails to act, the U.K. announced today that it's formally recognized Boko Haram as the terrorist organization that it is.

Click here to sign Clarion Project's petition calling on the Obama administration to designate Boko Haram a Foreign Terrorist Organization. Make a difference, sign now.


Ryan Mauro (left) is the’s National Security Analyst, a fellow with the Clarion Project and is frequently interviewed on Fox News.

Matt Carmel is an intern at the Clarion Project.




Aftermath of a Deadly Leak

by Ryan Mauro

In early April, I wrote that the senior U.S. officials who told Mark Perry of Foreign Policy that Azerbaijan agreed to let Israeli aircraft land in its territory could have blood on their hands, since regardless of whether the leaked story was true or not, Iran would send a warning shot towards Azerbaijan.

Only days after the story was published, Azerbaijan arrested 17 Al-Qaeda operatives with links to Iran as they were about to carry out terrorist attacks. One Azeri officer was killed and three were wounded during the sweep.

Mark Perry’s article was published on March 28. On April 6, Azerbaijan announced the arrests and said that the Al-Qaeda terrorists were planning to attack police, mosques and shrines. Some had undergone two months of training in Iran and were armed there. Others were indoctrinated in Syria and still others had been trained in Pakistan and had fought NATO troops in Afghanistan. Already in February, European officials warned that Iran and Al-Qaeda were tightening their relationship in order to carry out attacks on common enemies.

Although it can’t be proven that Iran had a direct role in the Al-Qaeda plot, the timing points to it. We know that in January, Iran paid at least two terrorists $150,000 to attack the Israeli ambassador, a rabbi and a teacher at a Jewish school in Azerbaijan. The cell leader met with Iranian intelligence. In March, Azerbaijan rounded up 22 terrorists that were trained near Tehran by the Revolutionary Guards to carry out a wave of terror attacks that were to include the U.S. and Israeli embassies, among other targets. Iranian hackers struck Azeri websites after the arrests.   

There’s no proof that Iran had a direct role in this Al-Qaeda plot, but the timing is curious, and it fits into this pattern. Iran cannot convincingly deny that it knows about Al-Qaeda’s training and organizing in its country. If the regime is able to stop tens of millions of Iranians from organizing protests, it’s hard to believe that the Iranian regime is unable to detect a network of foreigners belonging to the most high-profile terrorist group in the world.

The problem with state-sponsored terrorism is that, in many cases, we won’t know for sure if/how a government is involved. When Iran and Hezbollah decided to blow up the Israeli embassy in Azerbaijan in 2008, they reached out to local militants for cover. In December, District Judge George Daniels ruled that Iran and Hezbollah contributed materially to the 9/11 attacks behind-the-scenes.

If Iran was involved in this latest terror scheme, it could be argued that it was planned before the Foreign Policy story. It’s hard to know for sure, but officials leaking stories like this need to be fired and, when necessary, prosecuted. The Iranian regime isn’t going to just shrug its shoulders. It’s going to respond, and this latest Al-Qaeda plot could very well be a part of that response.

H/T to Thomas Joscelyn at the Weekly Standard for reporting on these latest arrests.

Ryan Mauro is's National Security analyst and a fellow with the Clarion Fund. He is the founder of and a frequent security analyst for Fox News.

Wed, September 24, 2014 U.S.-Arab Strikes in Syria Cause Serious Damage to ISIS & AQ

U.S. Navy F18 Super Hornet after conducting strike missions against ISIS targets in Syria

U.S. Navy F18 Super Hornet after conducting strike missions against ISIS targets in Syria

Ryan Mauro

The U.S. and five Arab partners began airstrikes on the Islamic State (more commonly known by the acronym of ISIS) on September 22 and have done serious damage. Jabhat al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch, was unexpectedly hit by the U.S. and jihadist pages reported the deaths of top leaders.

The initial airstrikes in Raqqa, Syria, the home base of ISIS, were caught on videotape. You can see it here on the Clarion Project YouTube channel.

The airstrikes were not carried out by the U.S. alone. The Arab countries of Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates took part. Qatar assisted logistically. France, which previously bombed ISIS in Iraq, did not take part.

Egypt declined in part because the U.S. would not endorse its campaign against the Muslim Brotherhood and against Ansar al-Sharia in Libya. The Turkish Prime Minister says his country may provide logistical and military support now that its 49 hostages have been released by ISIS as part of a secret deal with the terrorist group.

There were no serious protests against the U.S.-Arab airstrikes.

There was a small demonstration in Istanbul, Turkey. Significantly, a U.S.-backed “moderate” group of Syrian rebels named Harakat Hazm condemned the airstrikes, even though the U.S. has provided it with anti-tank missiles. An Arab newspaper reports that it is backed by the Muslim Brotherhood (the parent group of Hamas), Qatar and Turkey.

The author reported that jihadist social media pages were insistent that al-Nusra sites had been struck in the cities of Kafr Deryan and Idlib near Aleppo. This was confirmed by the Pentagon the next day.

Shortly after al-Nusra was hit, a video of an English-speaking, European member of al-Nusra in front of a destroyed site surfaced online. The terrorist, who said al-Nusra fights to “implement the law of Allah,” was audibly discouraged. He says, “A lot of mujahideen have been killed in these attacks.”

The U.S. has confirmed that it targeted al-Nusra’s Khorasan unit, a group of top Al-Qaeda operatives sent by Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri to recruit holders of Western passports. The U.S. says Khorasan was in the final stages of an attack in Europe or the U.S. The group is known to be targeting airliners with non-metallic bombs.

Khorasan includes explosives experts trained by Ibrahim al-Asiri, an Al-Qaeda operative in Yemen that has been described as “the most innovative bomb-builder in the jihadist world.” He is focused on making bombs that can sneak past airport security and designed the underwear bomb and ink cartridge bombs that almost destroyed U.S. airliners.

Jihadist social media pages are reporting that the Khorasan unit’s leader, Muhsin al-Fadhli, was killed. These accounts acknowledge that he came from the top tier of Al-Qaeda.

He fought in Chechnya and became a close aide to Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan. He began working with Al-Qaeda in Iraq, then led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and was a major fundraiser for the affiliate. Al-Fadhli was one of the few who were given advance knowledge of the 9/11 attacks.

He moved to Iran in 2009 to help operate an Al-Qaeda pipeline for funneling money and weapons that operates with Iranian permission. Al-Fadhli became the top overseer of the pipeline in 2011 and moved to Syria last year.

Jihadist pages also said that Abu Yousef al-Turki, described as Jabhat al-Nusra’s top sniper, was killed. He is said to have fought in Afghanistan and Pakistan. A propaganda video showcasing al-Nusra’s sniper unit trained by al-Tukri was subsequently distributed among supporters.

Photos of the strikes on al-Nusra targets show the precision of the U.S. munitions and strength of American intelligence. The aircraft knew exactly which buildings to destroy and did so with minimal damage to surrounding structures.

U.S. strikes on al-Nusra have been limited to the Khorasan unit. It is unclear if the entirety of the Al-Qaeda affiliate is being targeted.

The airstrikes on ISIS were focused on Raqqa, Deir al-Zour, Hasakah and Abu Kamal. It struck government buildings and military installations taken over by ISIS and used as command posts, as well as training camps, weapons depots and a structure used for financing the group.

ISIS normally has tight messaging and coordinated online responses. Its 55-minute documentary is an example of its media prowess. However, in the wake of the airstrikes, pro-ISIS accounts seemed scattered and tried to downplay their impact with poorly-disguised anxiety. There were far-fetched claims of U.S. and Arab aircraft being shot down and pilots captured.

The ISIS supporters responded with predictable chest-pounding and characterized the group’s mere survival as a victory. Several boasted of how the group was able to turn the power back on in Raqqa; a rather low standard of achievement.

ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra supporters are trying to paint the U.S. as disregarding civilian life, a caricature disproven by the aforementioned airstrikes using highly-expensive precision-guided munitions. Expect ISIS and al-Nusra to take a page out of the Hamas playbook to rile up anger against the U.S. and its Arab partners.

They tried to encourage each other by predicting that the day would soon come when they can fight U.S. combat troops on the ground.  The Obama Administration has ruled out the possibility of U.S. troops in an official combat role. The Iraqi government has likewise ruled it out.

ISIS backers are also trying to boost morale by redirecting attention onto their fight against the Syrian Kurds. ISIS has captured 60 Kurdish villages near the Turkish border, prompting an exodus of 200,000 residents from the area as ISIS approaches the city of Kobane. ISIS has released a video with footage of its offensive.

The Kurds stopped the ISIS advance shortly before the airstrikes began, but the Kurdish leadership says its defensive lines will only hold for days unless airpower is used to save the city. They predict a massacre if U.S. does not immediately intervene.

The U.S.-Arab airstrikes are helping to undermine the ISIS and Al-Nusra narrative that Allah is blessing their jihadis with success, but ISIS is able to maintain morale by pointing to its attacks on the Kurds and its capture of an Iraqi army base in Anbar Province that is described as “the most disastrous day for the Iraqi army” since ISIS captured Mosul and blitzed across the country.

It is strategically and morally inexcusable for the U.S. to allow the Kurds to suffer like this, especially when American aircrafts are already in the sky. It is time to save the Kurds, our most reliable ally against ISIS and Al-Qaeda. 



Ryan Mauro is’s national security analyst, a fellow with Clarion Project and an adjunct professor of homeland security. Mauro is frequently interviewed on Fox News.


Thu, August 28, 2014 8 Arrested in Saudi City After Recruiting for ISIS and Nusra

Still from an Islamic State recruitment video.

Still from an Islamic State recruitment video.

The leading Arabic newspaper Al-Hayat found out that 35 young men were recruited and sent to the frontlines in Syria and Iraq and to fight under the flag of the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra. They were recruited by a group with at least eight members. The Interior Ministry announced on August 26 that the eightrecruiters had been arrested. 

The incident took place in the city of Tumeir, a city of arounf 15,000 in Al-Mujamar province, around 140 km northwest of the Saudi capital Riyadh.

Sources told Al-Hayat that the young men who were recruited were between the ages of 20 and 25 and all of them residents of the area. The recruiters and those who were canvassed for recruitment had a close connection. Those recruited were sent to the battles in Syria in stages, beginning with the first stage of the riots in February 2011.

Al-Hayat took a tour of Tumeir, where they saw security presence in the main streets that were almost empty of people and filled with a tense silence.

The security spokesman for the Ministry of the Interior Major-General Mansur el-Turki said in an announcement published on August 26 that the security forces conducted an operation on August 25 in Tumeir. This operation led to the arrest of the eight citizens who "tempt young men" to join extreme groups abroad. The operation took place after complaints from the custodians of those who were targeted for recruitment. The security forces plan to prove their involvement and take the appropriate measures against them.

The investigation is still ongoing.  

El-Turki said that, according to royal guidelines, a list was made of extreme and ideologically extreme groups and trends, both locally and internationally. He said that the state will punish every person who is a member of, supports or adopts the ideas or customs of these groups in any form, and anyone who is sympathetic to them in any way or who gives them physical or moral support.

People who Al-Hayat spoke with in the city said that the event wasn’t so surprising, especially since those people had been arrested previously by the security forces.

Others refused to talk about the issue until the results of the inquiry become clear and it is proven that those people were involved in recruitment activities. 

Another article on this story shared comments from readers. One from Raid a-Shamri read, "It is a good thing that you arrested them, very nice, but who will stop all of the tempters of the young men on social media like twitter, facebook and What’sApp?"

Another commenter, Hamed, argued, "A basic principle – whoever sympathizes with and supports DAASH is basically adopting the whole mindset of the Muslim Brothers."

The Islamic State has a very sophisticated online recruitment and propaganda arm. They also publish a English language glossy magazine called Dabiq. It is named after a location in Syria that features in Islamic apocalypse mythology. 


Inside the Jihad: My Life With Al-Qaeda

Inside the Jihad: My Life With Al-Qaeda

By Omar Nasiri

Between 1994 and 2000, Omar Nasiri worked as a secret agent for Europe’s top foreign intelligence services-including France’s DGSE (Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure), and Britain’s MI5 and MI6. From the netherworld of Islamist cells in Belgium, to the training camps of Afghanistan, to the radical mosques of London, he risked his life to defeat the emerging global network that the West would come to know as Al Qaeda. Now, for the first time, Nasiri shares the story of his life --a life balanced precariously between the world of Islamic jihadists and the spies who pursue them. 

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The Islamist: Why I Became an Islamic Fundamentalist and Why I Left

The Islamist: Why I Became an Islamic Fundamentalist and Why I Left

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Sun, June 1, 2014 Taliban Bolstered by U.S. Release of 5 Top Terrorists from Gitmo

A cell block in the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.

A cell block in the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.

Ryan Mauro

The Taliban has released an American soldier, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, in return for five senior Taliban operatives held at Guantanamo Bay, but the release comes at a steep cost.  The U.S. has sent two messages: We negotiate with terrorists and kidnapping Americans works.

Sgt. Bergdahl was captured on June 30, 2009 and moved to Pakistan. He was held by the Haqqani Network, a group linked to Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. It has been listed by the State Department as a Foreign Terrorist Organization since September 2012. The Pakistani Taliban has been designated since 2010.

This means that the U.S. did negotiate with terrorists, even though official U.S. policy is not to do so. The State Department reiterated this position in January 2013 when it was asked about releasing the “Blind Sheikh,” Omar Abdel-Rahman, who is in prison for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. The response was, “The United States does not negotiate with terrorists.”

Terrorists around the world now know that is nothing but bravado. The Taliban didn’t have to pay a cost or make a major policy concession, like severing links with Al-Qaeda or agreeing to a ceasefire. If you want your captives back, kidnap Americans and be patient. That’s the lesson.

Look no further than Hamas’ kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in 2006. He was released in 2011 in exchange for over 1,000 Palestinian terrorist prisoners. Hamas and its Muslim Brotherhood parents told the world what they learned. The Brotherhood say it “confirmed the success of the ‘resistance option,’” meaning terrorism.

“The deal also proved that Israel only understands the language of force and resistance,” the Brotherhood proclaimed.

One key difference between the Shalit and Bergdahl situations is that the Israeli government defended its swap by saying the released terrorists were now thought to be of low risk. On the other hand, internal U.S. government documents identify all five Taliban leaders as high risk and likely to threaten the U.S. if released.

The Taliban obviously sees high value in these leaders, as they’ve sought their release since negotiations began in November 2010. A look at their biographies explains why.

Mohammed Fazl, captured in November 2001, is listed in a U.S. government file as a high-risk detainee.

He was the Taliban’s Army Chief of Staff, Deputy Minister of Defense, and commander of the 22nd Division. According to the U.N., he massacred thousands of Shiites in 2000-2001. He is also associated with Al-Qaeda and other Islamist terrorist groups.

“If released, detainee would likely rejoin the Taliban and establish ties with ACM [Anti-Coalition Militias] elements participating in hostilities against US and Coalition forces in Afghanistan,” the Department of Defense document concludes.

Khairullah Khairkhwa, captured in Pakistan in 2002, is listed in a U.S. government file as a high-risk detainee because he is “likely to pose a threat to the US, its interests and allies.”

He was the Taliban Interior Minister, Governor of Herat and a military commander. Khairkhwa was “directly associated” with Osama Bin Laden and Taliban leader Mullah Omar and arranged Iranian support for the Taliban and other terrorists in Afghanistan after 9/11. He also had associations with Hamas.

Mohammad Nabi, captured in 2002, is also listed in a U.S. government file as a high-risk detainee because he is “likely to pose a threat to the US, its interests and allies.”

He was the Taliban’s chief of communications and a security chief and had “strong operational ties” to Al-Qaeda. He also belonged to a joint Taliban/Al-Qaeda cell in Afghanistan. Nabi is also a major fundraiser for the Taliban.

Abdul Haq Wasiq, captured in November 2001, is likewise listed in a U.S. government file as a high-risk detainee because he is “likely to pose a threat to the US, its interests and allies.”

He was the Taliban’s Deputy Minister of Intelligence and was “central” to the Taliban’s alliances with terrorists like Al-Qaeda after 9/11. He oversaw the training of Taliban operatives by Al-Qaeda and helped Al-Qaeda operatives escape coalition forces. CNN reports that a U.S. government source described him as an “Al-Qaeda intelligence member.”

Mullah Norullah Noori, captured in November 2001, is similarly listed in a U.S. government file as a high-risk detainee because of the threat he poses to the U.S.

Noori was a senior Taliban commander with connections to senior Al-Qaeda operatives. He, like Fazl, is sought by the U.N. for massacring thousands of Shiites in 2000-2001. His brother is a Taliban commander, and Noori “continues to be significant to Taliban supporters in northern Afghanistan.”

All five Taliban leaders held senior positions, are considered “high risk” and worked with Al-Qaeda. The American public would likely not accept negotiations with Al-Qaeda, but the U.S. is negotiating with Al-Qaeda associates. The difference between these associates and “official” Al-Qaeda members is paper-think.

If Sgt. Bergdahl were the last remaining American soldier in Afghanistan, the prisoner swap would stand on stronger ground but 32,800 other U.S. soldiers remain.  Even after the end of combat operations at the end of this year, almost 10,000 will remain in 2015. The release of the Taliban leaders puts their lives in greater danger.


Ryan Mauro is the’s National Security Analyst, a fellow with the Clarion Project and is frequently interviewed on top-tier TV stations as an expert on counterterrorism and Islamic extremism.

Center for Naval Analyses Report: Climate Change Catalyst for Terrorism, Arab Spring, Syrian War

Submitted by Emily on Mon, 2014-05-19 04:37

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