Ex-Gitmo men run Tal­iban: Kirk

BACK FROM AFGHANISTAN | De­tainees freed to fight U.S. again, he says

Chicago Sun-Times - - News - BY ABDON M. PALLASCH

“All of the ma­jor leaders of the Tal­iban in the south of Afghanistan are for­mer Gitmo re­leasees — all of them,” Rep. Mark Kirk (RIll.) said Thurs­day.

That is among the in­for­ma­tion the U.S. Navy Re­serve in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cer learned on his hol­i­day de­ploy­ment to Afghanistan, he told an au­di­ence at Chicago’s Union League Club Thurs­day.

Kirk said NATO Ma­jor Gen. Michael T. Flynn told him, “Tell the peo­ple back home this: that not only are the peo­ple be­ing re­leased from Guan­tanamo and re­join­ing ji­had against the United States and our al­lies in Afghanistan, but the Gitmo de­tainees are the hard­est nut to crack. . . . Their sta­tus as some­one who was at Gitmo makes them in­stant leaders.

“I would urge the ad­min­is­tra­tion to stop all fur­ther re­leases from Guan­tanamo be­cause oth­er­wise they en­ter our bat­tlespace.”

Kirk’s dual po­si­tion as a con­gress­man and a naval in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cer helps his sta­tus as the front-run­ner in Illi­nois’ Repub­li­can pri­mary elec­tion for the U.S. Se­nate.

Kirk says 61 for­mer Guan­tanamo pris­on­ers have re­turned to fight­ing against U.S. forces. He says they re­port to Ab­dul Qayum Zakir, also known as Ab­dul­lah Ghu­lam Ra­soul, a 2008 Guan­tanamo re­leasee whom Kirk called “the prin­ci­pal com­man­der killing our forces in the south of Afghanistan.”

An Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial said, “We have been pre­sented with no in­for­ma­tion that sug­gests that any of the de­tainees trans­ferred by this ad­min­is­tra­tion have re­turned to the fight.” But that doesn’t ac­count for those, such as Zakir, re­leased be­fore this ad­min­is­tra­tion took of­fice.

While Kirk was de­ployed at his then-undis­closed lo­ca­tion, one of Kirk’s pri­mary ri­vals, Andy Martin, re­leased a ra­dio com­mer­cial ques­tion­ing whether the re­cently di­vorced Kirk is gay. Kirk said Thurs­day that ad was “un­true.”

“It’s ironic that I was there fight­ing for his rights while he was us­ing his free speech rights to say some­thing that wasn’t true,” Kirk said.

Con­tribut­ing: Lynn Sweet

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