Mohammad Fazl

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Mohammad Fazl
ISN 00007 Mohammad A Fazl.jpg
Mohammed Fazl's Guantanamo identity portrait -- the white uniform shows he is considered "compliant"
Deputy Defense minister
Personal details
Born October 24, 1967 (age 48)
Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan
Political party Taliban
Military service
Allegiance Flag of Taliban.svg Taliban (1994-2010)
Years of service 1994-2001
Rank Commander
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.[2] 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.[3] He was released, along with the other four members of the so-called Taliban fiveKhairullah 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.[4][5][6][7][8]


Not much is known about Fazl, except that he served as the deputy defense minister under the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (Taliban rule).[9][10] American intelligence analysts estimate that Fazl was born in 1967, in Sekzi, Caher Cineh District, Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan.[11] Although he negotiated an amnesty with the Afghan Northern Alliance leader Abdul Rashid Dostum,[12] it is alleged that he is responsible for killing thousands of Shi'a Afghans between 1996 and late 2001.[9]

Held aboard the USS Bataan[edit]

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.[13] 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.

Release negotiations[edit]

Most Afghans had been repatriated to Afghanistan by 2009.[14] 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.[15][16][17] 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.[17] It was reported that Karzai, who had initially opposed the transfer, now backed the plan.

Joint Review Task Force[edit]

When he assumed office in January 2009 President Barack Obama made a number of promises about the future of Guantanamo.[18][19] [20] 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.[21] 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.[8] Fazl and other members of the Taliban five, as part of the conditions of their release, were prohibited from leaving Qatar for one year.[22] Human Rights Watch argues that despite his release from Guantanamo Bay, Fazl should be investigated and prosecuted for war crimes.[23]


  1. ^ Deobandi Islam: The Religion of the Taliban U. S. Navy Chaplain Corps, 15 October 2001
  2. ^ OARDEC (2006-05-15). "List of Individuals Detained by the Department of Defense at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba from January 2002 through May 15, 2006" (PDF). United States Department of Defense. Retrieved 2007-09-29. 
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-07-20. Retrieved 2014-05-31. 
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-12-05. Retrieved 2014-06-01. 
  5. ^ JTF-GTMO (2007-03-16). "Measurements of Heights and Weights of Individuals Detained by the Department of Defense at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba". Department of Defense. Archived from the original on 2008-12-22. Retrieved 2008-12-22. 
  6. ^ "Measurements of Heights and Weights of Individuals Detained by the Department of Defense at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (ordered and consolidated version)". Center for the Study of Human Rights in the Americas, from DoD data. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-12-21. 
  7. ^ Margot Williams (2008-11-03). "Guantanamo Docket: Mullah Mohammad Fazl". New York Times. 
  8. ^ a b CNN, Devon M. Sayers and Holly Yan,. "Bowe Bergdahl pleads guilty to desertion, faces up to life in prison". CNN. Retrieved 2017-10-18. 
  9. ^ a b Lawmakers may seek to block Taliban transfer Archived November 29, 2014, at the Wayback Machine. by Mark Hosenball and Missy Ryan. January 6, 2012.
  10. ^ Edward Cody (2001-12-24). "If Able, Pakistan to Hand U.S. Bin Laden: Musharraf Makes Pledge as Troops Scour Border, but Says Fugitive May Be Dead". Washington Post. p. A10. Retrieved 2009-07-18.  name=UyghurCongress2006-04-28> "Afghans praise, Pakistanis slam Guantanamo list". World Uyghur Congress. 2006-04-28. Retrieved 2009-07-18. [dead link]
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-10-24. Retrieved 2009-07-19. 
  12. ^ Justin Huggler (2001-11-25). "Taliban defect but foreigners pledge to fight to the death: Siege of Kunduz - Victory appears close but fears mount that standoff could still end in bloodbath". London: The Independent. Retrieved 2009-07-18. 
  13. ^ Abdul Salam Zaeef (2010). "Torture and Abuse on the USS Bataan and in Bagram and Kandahar: An Excerpt from "My Life with the Taliban" by Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef". Archived from the original on 2010-12-16. 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. 
  14. ^ 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. 
  15. ^ "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. 
  16. ^ 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. 
  17. ^ a b 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. 
  18. ^ Peter Finn (January 22, 2010). "Justice task force recommends about 50 Guantanamo detainees be held indefinitely". Washington Post. Archived from the original on 2015-05-19. Retrieved July 21, 2010. 
  19. ^ Peter Finn (May 29, 2010). "Most Guantanamo detainees low-level fighters, task force report says". Washington Post. Archived from the original on 2015-05-19. Retrieved July 21, 2010. 
  20. ^ Andy Worthington (June 11, 2010). "Does Obama Really Know or Care About Who Is at Guantánamo?". Archived from the original on 2010-06-16. Retrieved July 21, 2010. 
  21. ^ "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. 
  22. ^ "American soldier held captive in Afghanistan is now free". MSNBC. Retrieved 1 June 2014. 
  23. ^ 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

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