Gitmo Detainees Swapped for Bowe Bergdahl Are Now ISIS Leaders-Fiction!
Summary of eRumor:
Three of five Guantanamo Bay detainees that were released in exchange for U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl are now ISIS leaders.
Three of five detainees that were swapped for Bowe Bergdahl’s release haven’t become leaders of ISIS.
That rumor started in September 2014 with a report published at the blog site Political Ears:
It is being reported that at least 3 of the 5 detainees involved in the swap have joined ISIS in Syria and Iraq as commanders and are using that rank to usher in an “Islamic Caliphate” (a Sunni Islamic Theocracy – contrary to Obama’s claims that ISIS is not Islamic).
The “Taliban 5” who were transferred from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to custody in Doha, Qatar, are Mohammad Fazl, Khairullah Khairkhwa, Abdul Haq Wasiq, Norullah Noori, and Mohammad Nabi Omari. They have largely disappeared from view since they were dropped off in Doha, but eyewitnesses place Fazi, Wasiq, and Noori in Iraq and Syria fighting with ISIS.
Political Ears, which identifies itself as “a conservative political website which focuses on news and opinions from a conservative perspective,” hasn’t identified a source for its report that three of the five released detainees have joined ISIS, so we can’t fact-check the particulars of that claim.
But the movements of the five detainees from the prisoner swap have been well documented since they were released in May 2014, and there’s no indication that any of them are now leaders of ISIS.
The detainees were released into the custody of Qatar, where they were housed and monitored on a one-year travel ban. Then, as the date approached for the travel ban to be lifted, the U.S. began renegotiating the terms, Vice News reports:
After the deal was hatched in May 2014, the high-level militants known as the Taliban Five were sent to Qatar, where government officials have monitored their activities and movements and enforced the travel constraints. With the restriction nearing its June 1 expiration date and American officials alarmed that the former prisoners will return to the battle for Afghanistan, the Associated Press has reported that the United States government is discussing a possible extension of the ban with Qatar, though no details have been revealed.
…As the ban’s expiration date approaches, four out of the five detainees remain on the United Nations’ blacklist that freezes their assets and imposes a separate travel restriction. But the UN ban’s effectiveness is evidently limited: the UN sanctions committee has conceded that it routinely receives reports suggesting that individuals who are barred from travel had become “increasingly adept at circumventing” the sanctions, particularly when it comes to travel, though the reports are as yet officially unconfirmed.
In May 2015, Fox News reported that Qatar had agreed to extend the travel ban and monitoring of the five released detainees.
The U.S.’s concern about the detainees returning to the battlefield stems from reports in January 2015 that one of the detainees was suspected of “militant activities” and had made contact with Taliban associates in Afghanistan:
The officials would not say which of the five men is suspected. But an ongoing U.S. intelligence program to secretly intercept and monitor all of their communications in Qatar turned up evidence in recent months that one of them has “reached out” to try to encourage militant activity, one official said. The official would offer no further details.
“What I can say with confidence is this individual has not returned to the battlefield, this individual is not allowed to travel outside Qatar, and this individual has not engaged in any physical violence,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Friday.
There have been plenty of reports that the detainees are involved with ISIS, but none of them have proven true.