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Afghanistan's Karzai freeing dozens of imprisoned Taliban terrorists

The Pentagon on Monday condemned an order from Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai to set free at least three-dozen prisoners regardless of American concerns that they would pose a threat to security.

With the U.S. forces still in harms way, President Karzai decided to release suspected Taliban killers who may return to the battlefield and may kill more Americans.
With the U.S. forces still in harms way, President Karzai decided to release suspected Taliban killers who may return to the battlefield and may kill more Americans.AFPS/DoD

U.S. Army Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, said on Monday that strong evidence or investigative leads support the detainees’ prosecution or at least the need for further investigation.

A special government panel called the Afghan Review Board, or ARB, that was setup by the Karzai government, ordered that 37 detainees be released from the Afghan-supervised detention facility at Bagram Airfield, according to American Forces Press Service's Amaani Lyle.

The detention center at Bagram was turned over by the United States to the Afghan military in March 2013, Lyle noted.

“ARB is releasing dangerous insurgents, and the [United States] has provided extensive information and evidence on each of these 88 detainees,” Col. Warren said. “We strongly condemn the extrajudicial release of these detainees.”

Warren said that of the 37 detainees to be released, 17 are linked to the production of -- or attacks using -- improvised explosive devices (IEDs), three participated in or had knowledge of direct attacks wounding or killing 11 Afghan national security forces members, and four participated in or had knowledge of direct attacks wounding or killing 42 U.S. or coalition service members.

The detainees are characterized as “bad guys” and “individuals with U.S., coalition and Afghan blood on their hands.”

The U.S. government has stated that "any releases would constitute a breach of a memorandum of understanding agreed between the two sides at the time the U.S. handed over control of Bagram jail, where these prisoners were held."

"The ARB [Afghan Review Board] released back into society dangerous insurgents who have Afghan blood on their hands," the official statement from the U.S. military noted.

The Obama administration and Karzai have been at odds over the signing of a security deal regarding the 2014 U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, according to Examiner news reports.

The United Nations Security Council's mandate stipulates that the US-led international military force in Afghanistan is scheduled to hand over all security duties to Afghan forces before its full withdrawal by the end of 2014.

According to Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer during an appearance on Fox News Channel, among the detainees freed over U.S. objections were:

Haji Abdullah, described as a “high-level foreign fighter facilitator” who helped mount the Aug. 16, 2012 attack that brought down a U.S. helicopter.Abdullah escorted Pakistani and Arab suicide bombers into the area to facilitate their attacks, and directed a cell of 10 fighters which carried out attacks ordered by the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

Mohammad Khan, a Taliban commander who coordinated suicide bomber missions, one of which killed a U.S. soldier and wounded four more.

Nek Mohammad, a bomb expert who transferred money to Al Qaeda before he was captured last May in possession of bomb making materials.

Akthar Mohammad, a suspected Taliban commander who planned and conducted numerous attacks on U.S. and Afghan forces.

“Khalil,” a Haqqani network operative and suspected member of a Taliban cell captured last July in Kandahar. In addition to testing positive for trace amounts of explosives, he failed a polygraph test that asked if he had been involved in attacks on coalition forces.

Nurullah, a suspected Taliban commander who carried out bomb and rocket attacks against coalition forces that killed at least one U.S. service member and injured four more.