Taliban freed from Guantanamo, claims exchanged for American 

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A senior Taliban detainee held for years at Guantanamo Bay mentioned Monday he was launched and handed over earlier within the day to the Taliban in Kabul, in trade for an American prisoner held in Afghanistan.

Bashir Noorzai, a infamous drug lord and member of the Taliban, informed reporters in Kabul that he spent 17 years and 6 months within the U.S. detention middle at Guantanamo Bay, and that he was the final Taliban prisoner there.

The Taliban-appointed international minister, Amir Khan Muttaqi, additionally spoke on the press convention alongside Noorzai and welcomed the trade, saying it marked the beginning of a “new period” in U.S.-Taliban relations.

Muttaqi mentioned the launched American was Mark Frerichs, a Navy veteran and civilian contractor kidnapped in Afghanistan on Jan. 31, 2020.

Frerichs was final seen in a video distributed earlier this yr, pleading for his launch in order that he might be reunited together with his household, in line with a recording posted by The New Yorker journal on the time.

There was no unbiased affirmation or phrase from Washington on Frerichs’ launch.

“This is usually a new chapter between Afghanistan and the United States, this will open a brand new door for talks between each nations,” Muttaqi mentioned on the Kabul presser.

“This act reveals us that each one issues might be solved by way of talks and I thank either side’ groups who labored so laborious for this to occur,” Muttaqi added.

Frerichs, of Lombard, Illinois, was believed to be held by the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani community, and U.S. officers throughout two presidential administrations had tried unsuccessfully to get him residence.

In the video, which marked the primary time Frerichs was seen since his abduction, he says it was filmed final November.

Videos of hostages are generally launched to point out proof that they’re alive and to facilitate negotiations for a launch, although it was not instantly clear if that was the case right here.

The New Yorker mentioned it obtained the clip from an unidentified particular person in Afghanistan.

At the time, the FBI declined to touch upon the video’s authenticity, however a sister of Frerichs, Charlene Cakora, issued an announcement thanking the Taliban for releasing the video and describing it as “public affirmation of our household’s long-held perception that he’s alive after greater than two years in captivity.”

Since their takeover of Afghanistan in August final yr, the Taliban have demanded the United States launch Noorzai in trade for Frerichs amid expectations of such exchanges for U.S. residents held in Afghanistan.

However, there was no public signal of Washington transferring ahead on any form of prisoner commerce or trade.

The Taliban additionally posted a short video Monday on social media exhibiting Noorzai’s arrival on the Kabul airport the place he was welcomed by prime Taliban officers, together with Muttaqi. At the press convention, Noorzai expressed thankfulness at seeing his “mujahedeen brothers” — a reference to the Taliban — in Kabul.

“I pray for extra success of the Taliban,” he added. “I hope this trade can result in peace between Afghanistan and America, as a result of an American was launched and I’m additionally free now.”

Noorzai made no point out of his remedy at Guantanamo Bay, the detention middle used to deal with Muslim militants, together with al-Qaida fighters, the Taliban and suspects captured by U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere following the September 11, 2001 terrorist assaults within the U.S.

The facility grew to become the main focus of worldwide controversy over alleged violations of the legal rights of detainees underneath the Geneva Conventions and accusations of torture or abusive remedy of detainees by U.S. authorities.

After 9/11, a U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan toppled the Taliban who had harbored al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden and his followers. Bin Laden was killed in a U.S. raid in Pakistan in 2011.

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