A Taliban commander bragged in a victory speech from inside the Presidential Palace in Kabul that he spent eight years in Guantanamo Bay, the notorious lockup in Cuba used by the US to house some of the world’s most notable suspected terrorists.
The unidentified man made his comments in a press conference live-streamed by Al Jazeera hours after President Ashraf Ghani fled from Afghanistan, the Times of London reported.
He and other Taliban fighters demanded a “peaceful transfer of power,” while a spokesman for the group’s political office told Al Jazeera TV that the war was over in the war-torn country.
“I want to congratulate the Muslim Afghan people on this huge victory. Day by day we will get involved in the service of our nation, in providing them with the security and hope for their future,” Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, co-founder of the Taliban in Afghanistan, said in another clip, the UK outlet reported.
A Taliban spokesman added: “We don’t interfere with others’ affairs and we won’t allow interference in our affairs. We have reached what we were seeking — the freedom of our country and the independence of our people.”
Thousands of terrorists were freed after the Taliban seized control of the former US base at Bagram and the prison known as Afghanistan’s Guantanamo Bay, where captured senior al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders had been taken by US forces before being flown to the real Guantanamo Bay, according to the report.
The Bagram lockup contained the 5,000 “highest-value” Taliban, al-Qaeda and ISIS fighters, who a Taliban spokesman said were “being evacuated to a safe place.”
British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace warned that Afghanistan could once again harbor terrorists who could plot attacks against the West.
“I’m absolutely worried that failed states are breeding grounds for those types of people,” he told Sky News. “Al-Qaeda will probably come back.”
The US opened the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility in January 2002, in the aftermath of 9/11, to hold people accused of ties to al Qaeda and the Taliban.
It became a source of international criticism over the mistreatment of prisoners and the prolonged imprisonment of people without charge.
In February, President Biden announced that he was reviewing the state of the military prison with the hope of shutting it down.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki last month said it was the “goal” and “intention” of the Biden administration to close the facility, a promise former President Barack Obama made when he took office in January 2009.
Obama repeated the closing goal several times during his two terms but was never able to find a path to a shutdown because of legal and political obstacles.
In contrast, then-President Trump signed an executive order to keep the prison open.
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