Mohammed Fazl's Guantanamo identity portrait -- the white uniform shows he is considered "compliant"
|Deputy Defense minister|
|Born||October 24, 1967 (age 48)
Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan
|Years of service||1994-2001|
|Battles/wars||Afghan civil war
War in Afghanistan
Mullah Mohammad Fazl (born October 24, 1967) is the Taliban's former Deputy Defense Minister and was held in the Guantanamo Bay detention camps in Cuba after being classified as an enemy combatant by the United States. His Guantanamo Internment Serial Number was 7. He arrived at the Guantanamo detention camps on 11 January 2002, and was held there until 31 May 2014. He was released, along with the other four members of the so-called Taliban five—Khairullah Khairkhwa, Abdul Haq Wasiq, Norullah Noori, and Mohammad Nabi Omari in exchange for the release of United States Army soldier Bowe Bergdahl, a convicted deserter who had been held captive by the Taliban-aligned Haqqani network.
Not much is known about Fazl, except that he served as the deputy defense minister under the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (Taliban rule). American intelligence analysts estimate that Fazl was born in 1967, in Sekzi, Caher Cineh District, Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan. Although he negotiated an amnesty with the Afghan Northern Alliance leader Abdul Rashid Dostum, it is alleged that he is responsible for killing thousands of Shi'a Afghans between 1996 and late 2001.
Held aboard the USS Bataan
Former Taliban Ambassador to Pakistan Abdul Salam Zaeef described being flown to the United States Navy's amphibious warfare vessel, the USS Bataan (LHD-5), for special interrogation. Zaeef wrote that the cells were located six decks down, were only 1 meter by 2 meters. He wrote that the captives weren't allowed to speak with one another, but that he "eventually saw that Mullahs Fazal, Noori, Burhan, Wasseeq Sahib and Rohani were all among the other prisoners." Historian Andy Worthington, author of The Guantanamo Files, identified Fazil as one of the men Zaeef recognized.
Most Afghans had been repatriated to Afghanistan by 2009. Throughout the fall of 2011 and the winter of 2012 the United States conducted peace negotiations with the Taliban, and widely leaked was that a key sticking point was the ongoing detention of Fazl and four other senior Taliban, Norullah Noori, Khirullah Khairkhwa, Abdul Haq Wasiq and Mohammed Nabi. Negotiations hinged on a proposal to send the five men directly to Doha, Qatar, where they would be allowed to set up an official office for the Taliban.
In March 2012, it was reported that Ibrahim Spinzada, described as "Karzai's top aide" had spoken with the five men, in Guantanamo, earlier that month, and had secured their agreement to be transferred to Qatar. It was reported that Karzai, who had initially opposed the transfer, now backed the plan.
Joint Review Task Force
When he assumed office in January 2009 President Barack Obama made a number of promises about the future of Guantanamo.  He promised the use of torture would cease at the camp. He promised to institute a new review system. That new review system was composed of officials from six departments, where the OARDEC reviews were conducted entirely by the Department of Defense. When it reported back, a year later, the Joint Review Task Force classified some individuals as too dangerous to be transferred from Guantanamo, even though there was no evidence to justify laying charges against them. On April 9, 2013, that document was made public after a Freedom of Information Act request. Mohammed Fazl was one of the 71 individuals deemed too innocent to charge, but too dangerous to release. Although Obama promised that those deemed too innocent to charge, but too dangerous to release would start to receive reviews from a Periodic Review Board less than a quarter of men have received a review.
On June 1, 2014 Fazl, and the other four Taliban prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, were released in Qatar in exchange for U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl who had been captured by the Taliban nearly five years previously. Bergdahl later pleaded guilty to the crime of desertion on October 16, 2017. Fazl and other members of the Taliban five, as part of the conditions of their release, were prohibited from leaving Qatar for one year. Human Rights Watch argues that despite his release from Guantanamo Bay, Fazl should be investigated and prosecuted for war crimes.
- Deobandi Islam: The Religion of the Taliban U. S. Navy Chaplain Corps, 15 October 2001
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- Margot Williams (2008-11-03). "Guantanamo Docket: Mullah Mohammad Fazl". New York Times.
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We were not permitted to talk to each other, but could see one another while the food was handed to us. I eventually saw that Mullahs Fazal, Noori, Burhan, Wasseeq Sahib and Rohani were all among the other prisoners, but still we could not talk to each other.
- M K Bhadrakumar (2012-01-10). "There's more to peace than Taliban". Asia Times. Archived from the original on 2012-01-11. Retrieved 2012-01-11.
Nevertheless, Iranian media insist that three high-ranking Taliban leaders have been released - Mullah Khairkhawa, former interior minister; Mullah Noorullah Noori, a former governor; and Mullah Fazl Akhund, the Taliban's chief of army staff - in exchange for an American soldier held by the Taliban.
- "Guantanamo Taliban inmates 'agree to Qatar transfer'". BBC News. 2012-03-10. Archived from the original on 2012-03-12. Retrieved 2012-03-12.
If the president pursues this strategy, though, he will need support from wary politicians in Congress, our correspondent says. Many there see a transfer of what they call the most dangerous inmates at Guantanamo as a step too far, he adds.
- Rahim Faiez, Anne Gearan (2012-03-12). "Taliban prisoners at Guantánamo OK transfer". Miami Herald. Archived from the original on 2012-03-12. Retrieved 2012-03-12.
Five top Taliban leaders held by the U.S. in the Guantánamo Bay military prison told a visiting Afghan delegation they agree to a proposed transfer to the tiny Gulf state of Qatar, opening the door for a possible move aimed at bringing the Taliban into peace talks, Afghan officials said Saturday.
- Hamid Shalizi (2012-03-10). "Taliban Guantanamo detainees agree to Qatar transfer - official". Reuters. Archived from the original on 2012-03-12. Retrieved 2012-03-12.
Karzai's top aide, Ibrahim Spinzada, visited the Guantanamo facility this week to secure approval from the five Taliban prisoners to be moved to Qatar.
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- "71 Guantanamo Detainees Determined Eligible to Receive a Periodic Review Board as of April 19, 2013". Joint Review Task Force. 2013-04-09. Archived from the original on 2015-05-19. Retrieved 2015-05-18.
- "American soldier held captive in Afghanistan is now free". MSNBC. Retrieved 1 June 2014.
- Gossman, Patricia (June 17, 2014) Prosecute Taliban Commander in Bergdahl Swap for War Crimes Archived January 15, 2016, at the Wayback Machine. Human Rights Watch hrw.org
- Who Are the Remaining Prisoners in Guantánamo? Part Two: Captured in Afghanistan (2001) Andy Worthington, September 17, 2010