Tags: Al-Qaida | Bowe Bergdahl Freed | Middle East | Bergdahl | Taliban | prisoners | Qatar

Destination of Taliban Detainees Is Hotbed of Terrorism

By Melanie Batley   |   Friday, 06 Jun 2014 11:56 AM

In a deal to secure the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl from Afghanistan, President Barack Obama freed five senior Taliban detainees to return to Qatar, a country that is a hotbed of terrorist activity, according to a recent U.S. government report.

A January briefing paper for lawmakers by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service said the Qatari government has close ties to leaders of the Hamas terror group, and that the political leader of Hamas, Khaled Meshaal, who Israeli forces attempted to assassinate for orchestrating a deadly series of suicide bombings, "continues to operate in Doha after decamping there from Damascus in 2012," the New York Post reported.

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In the deal struck by the Obama administration, Islamic Qatar would supervise the former detainees for at least one year, and on the condition the Qataris would be "keeping eyes on them and creating a structure in which we can monitor their activities," Obama said.

But the president admitted there's "absolutely" a chance they could return to jihadist causes against America.

The conditions of the deal have been widely criticized for both their weakness and naiveté. Others are concerned about the administration's ability and willingness to enforce the terms of the deal, and two U.S. officials said the State Department and U.S. intelligence agencies had expressed skepticism in the past about Qatar's commitment to supervise militants released into their custody.

The report also said that Yusuf al Qaradawi, a member of the radical Muslim Brotherhood, also operates out of Qatar. He advocates support for armed Islamist groups in Syria and encourages Egyptian unrest, the report said, according to the Post.

Al Qaradawi has been banned from the United States since 1999 for extremist rants and has supported attacks on American forces in Iraq.

The report added that a member of the Qatari royal family, former interior minister Shaykh Abdullah bin Khalid Al Thani, provided support to al-Qaida operatives, including one of the masterminds behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Khalid Sheik Mohammed.

"The State Department reported in 2011 that Qatari authorities 'did not adequately enforce its laws and international standards to track funds transfers to individuals and organizations (including charities) associated with extremists and terrorist facilitators outside Qatar,'" the 14-page report said, according to the Post.

A senior-level Persian Gulf official said the detainees will be able to move freely around the country, will not be treated as prisoners, and that the United States will not be involved in monitoring their activities, according to the Post.

A release 10 years ago of Taliban detainees to Morocco resulted in the terrorists ultimately returning to the battlefield in Syria, despite attempts by the Moroccan government to punish their recruitment of al-Qaida operatives, The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week.

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