Taliban Private Jet Return Flight: Afghanistan Welcomes Guantanamo detainees as heroes

Return flight by a private Taliban jet
Afghanistan welcomes Guantanamo detainees as heroes

Asadullah Haroon was never charged and still served 15 years in one of the most famous prisons in the world. After his release, the contrast could hardly be greater: he flies by private plane back to Afghanistan with Taliban representatives and is publicly celebrated there.

The Afghan, who was released from the American prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, after 15 years, was hailed as a hero in his homeland. Asadullah Haroon traveled to Kabul from Qatar by private jet and was accompanied by senior Taliban officials, official photos show. Haroon spent 15 years in a notorious prison camp without ever being charged. He was arrested by US troops in 2006 while traveling between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

In his homeland, the 40-year-old was now inaugurated: huge pictures of Haroon were attached to lanterns on a road leading away from the airport. “My first question is why I was detained at Guantanamo,” Haroon, who was wearing a black Taliban turban, told reporters after his arrival.

He said of his stay at Guantánamo that the worst thing was “not physical abuse, but rather mental stress,” which grew “day by day.” “We called it ‘white torture,'” Haroon said.

Haroon’s family, who fled to Pakistan during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and live in Peshawar, learned of the release on Friday and cheered on the news. “It’s like a sugar feast in our house, like a wedding,” said Haroon’s brother Roman Khan.

Another Afghan at Guantanamo

Washington has accused Haroon of being a courier for the al-Qaeda terrorist network and commander of the Hizb-i-Islami group. His family admitted that he belonged to Hizb-i-Islami, but denied any connection to al-Qaeda. According to the Taliban, the extradition was preceded by “direct” negotiations between the Taliban and the US government.

The responsible US commission still rejected the release of the man in 2020, but then agreed in October last year. She explained that Haroon had not taken a leading role in the extremist organization and had also “shown regret.”

As a result, there is currently only one Afghan prisoner at Guantánamo: Muhammad Rahim, who arrived there in March 2008. The CIA accused him of being a confidant of former al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden. Afghan Foreign Ministry spokesman Abdul Kahar Balchi said he “hopes” that Rahim will be released soon.

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