Taliban Guantanamo Prisoners Agree to Qatar Transfer

Posted March 10th, 2012 at 7:40 pm (UTC-5)
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Five high-profile Taliban militants held at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have agreed to be transferred to the Gulf state of Qatar.

Senior Afghan officials told the media Saturday the five gave their consent to the transfer during a meeting with a visiting Afghan delegation earlier this week.

But the transfer still needs to be approved by the United States, and several U.S. lawmakers with knowledge of the proposal have already voiced strong opposition.

The government of President Hamid Karzai initially also opposed the move, saying that while they backed the prisoners being taken out of Guantanamo, they wanted them transferred back to Afghanistan. However, Kabul later dropped its opposition “for the sake of peace” and said that once in Qatar, the inmates would be reunited with their families.

The possible deal is meant as an incentive for the Taliban to begin serious peace talks with the Afghan government.

Among the prisoners who may be sent to Qatar is at least one “high-risk” detainee, alleged to be responsible for the killing of thousands of minority Shi'ite Muslims in Afghanistan.

The Afghan Taliban has reportedly begun preliminary talks with U.S. officials in Qatar and has previously announced plans to open a political office there.

The group has repeatedly refused to negotiate with the Afghan government.