Much has been written about Hailey native Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl this week, in the shadow of the announcement from the Taliban that it would be willing to swap the Idaho soldier—coming up on his fourth anniversary in captivity—with five prisoners being held in Guantanamo Bay.
But little has been printed in Idaho about the five prisoners who might be the key to whether Bergdahl returns home sooner than later; but the detainees are considered to be among the most senior Taliban militants behind bars.
According to this morning's New York Times, two were senior Taliban commanders implicated in the murder of thousands of Shiites in Afghanistan. According to an interrogator, the two "did not express any regret and stated they did what they needed to do." A third is a former deputy director of Taliban intelligence. A fourth is a former senior Taliban official with "strong operational ties" to various extremist militias. The fifth is a former Taliban minister accused of having sought help from Iran in attacking American forces, according to the Times.
The Times reports that "any prisoner release ... is not imminent. The transfer restrictions require 30 days' notice to lawmakers before any detainee leaves, and the administration has not yet given any notification."
The five are among 18 Afghans remaining at Guantanamo—out of 220 taken there during the Bush administration. According to the Times, the other 13 are accused of far less serious and specific actions, meaning that they are "not important enough to be bargaining chips."
Meanwhile, this morning's Idaho Mountain Express reports that Bergdahl's parents are scheduled to make a rare public appearance to speak at a rally Saturday, June 22 in Hailey. The event, called "Bring Bowe Home," will take place at Hop Porter Park from 1-5 p.m.
"The Bergdahl family is very encouraged by this development [the proposed prisoner exchange]," Idaho National Guard Colonel Tim Marson told the Mountain Express.