Taliban Appoint Ex-Guantanamo Detainee as New Afghan Government Defense Minister

The Taliban have appointed former Guantanamo detainee Mullah Abdul Qayyum Zakir as acting defense minister after the group's takeover of Afghanistan. He was released from the notorious Cuba-based camp, which is run by the US, during George W Bush's Presidency in 2007.

Zakir was Reportedly Released from Guantanamo in 2007

Born in 1973, Zakir is an ethnic Pashtun and a member of the Alizai tribe.

Zakir joined the Taliban in 1997, reports say. He was arrested by US troops after their invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. He was interned in the Guantanamo Bay detainment camps in Cuba. He had reportedly carried the number eight while in prison. Zakir is said to have been released in 2007 after telling American officials he had no intention of returning to the battlefield, reported the Daily Mail.

Mullah Abdul Qayyum Zakir
Mullah Abdul Qayyum Zakir is believed by online sources to be the man fifth from left in this image, Twitter

Zakir Rose Through the Ranks of the Taliban After His Release from Guantanamo

After his release, Zakir rose through the ranks of the Taliban, running military operations in Helmand Province before becoming the Taliban's overall military commander. In 2014 he stepped down, reportedly following an internal leadership dispute, then was appointed as a deputy to the military head in 2020.

A Newsweek article in mid-May 2011 detailed Zakir's operations as military leader of the Taliban, operating in Quetta without Pakistani interference while organizing a major springtime offensive in Afghanistan.

According to Arab news site Alarby, Zakir was in charge of the force who entered the Afghan presidential palace in Kabul earlier this month after the official government led by president Ashraf Ghani collapsed.

Zakir is said to be a 'personal friend' of Ismail Qaani - the head of Iran's elite Quds force - and has previously received sophisticated weapons systems from the Middle East neighbor, according to the Daily Mail. He is also said to have been a vehement opponent of peace talks which took place between the Taliban and the Afghan government before the takeover.

Guantanamo Prison Is a Two-Decade-Old Human Rights Embarrassment to US

The Guantanamo Bay detention camp in which Zakir was staying is a United States military prison located within Guantanamo Bay Naval Base on the coast of Guantánamo Bay in Cuba.

With the United States approaching the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, 75 lawmakers signed a letter saying the US Navy-run prison in Guantanamo Bay, was in disrepair, costly and a two-decade-old human rights embarrassment to the country, according to AFP news agency.

The prison was activated in late 2001 when the United States combed the world for members and supporters of Al-Qaeda complicit in the September 11 and other attacks against US assets and facilities.

But detaining and secretly rendering hundreds of men to Guantanamo, subjecting many to torture, and holding them for years without charges or due process, heavily tainted Washington's demands for justice after the 9/11 attacks, according to AFP.