Tags: Afghanistan | America's Forum | Bowe Bergdahl Freed | War on Terrorism | phares | hoekstra | taliban

Walid Phares: Freed Terrorists Could Direct Battlefield From Qatar

By Courtney Coren   |   Thursday, 05 Jun 2014 04:24 PM

The Taliban terrorists released from Guantanamo Bay in exchange for U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl could easily "direct the battlefield" from where they are in Qatar says Middle East expert Dr. Whalid Phares.

"Through meeting with other leaders, they could possibly from Qatar direct the battlefield," Phares told J.D. Hayworth and Francesca Page in a panel discussion on "America's Forum" on Newsmax TV Thursday.

"We have just released back to the Taliban network ... four or five major leaders," Phares explained. "I mean these leaders, according to Arab sources, are part of what they call the 'Kitchen Cabinet' of Mullah Omar."

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"Imagine in World War II, for example, we would be releasing five Nazi generals for one soldier," he added. "[It] does not make sense in terms of strategy."

Phares said that the United States could have just given up "100 Taliban foot soldiers" instead of the five that were released.

Former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Pete Hoekstra told Newsmax that it will be very easy for the five to travel to Afghanistan as well as for the Taliban cabinet to come to Qatar to meet with them.

If they want "to leave Qatar and go back to the back Afghan region, it's going to be very, very easy for them to do that over the next 12 months."

In addition, "they're going to be fully accessible to the war cabinet of the Taliban," as well.

Hoekstra contends that "it's going to be very hard from a technology standpoint to track these individuals in Qatar."

The Michigan Republican said that the only way to do it would be to have "human trackers," but Hoekstra thinks that is unlikely and that "they'll probably be required to report in once a week to law enforcement officials in Qatar."

Phares said that the administration made the deal because it "wanted to speak with the Taliban, wanted to respond to one of the conditions the Taliban had imposed months ago through Qatar, that is the release of this team of leaders in exchange of dialogue over the future of Afghanistan," he explained.

President Barack Obama said Thursday that he makes "no apologies" for arranging to have Bergdahl freed in exchange for five terrorists being detained in Guantanamo Bay after the administration has been widely criticized for the move. 

Hoekstra said he doubts the United States will get very much "intelligence from" Bergdahl.

"I don't think he was in a position to get a lot of information," Hoekstra told Newsmax. "If he did desert five years ago and there are allegations, very disturbing allegations, that he may have actually given the Taliban the information that would have enabled them to improve their targeting of American soldiers, but somewhere along through that process he may have become disillusioned."

"He never earned the trust of the Taliban, the Haqqani network," he added. "I doubt that he's got much of intelligence value to the U.S. at all."

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