New Taliban Leader Had Been in Afghan Custody; Released in Hostage Deal

By Maddy Sauer

Jun 20, 2007 12:01pm

The Taliban military commander who led the "graduation ceremony" for 300 suicide bombers was one of five men released from an Afghanistan prison earlier this year in exchange for a kidnapped Italian journalist. On the tape, Dadullah, whose notoriously brutal brother was killed by the U.S. last month, introduces and congratulates new teams of suicide bombers as he sends them off to conduct suicide missions in the U.S., Canada, Great Britain and Germany. "These Americans, Canadians, British and Germans come here to Afghanistan from faraway places," Dadullah says on the tape. "Why shouldn’t we go after them?" THE BLOTTER RECOMMENDS Photos Inside an al Qaeda/Taliban ‘Graduation’ World News Video Taliban ‘Graduates’ Heading West? Blotter Exclusive: Suicide Bomb Teams Sent to U.S. Europe Blotter Afghan Trade: Four Hostages for Body of Dead Taliban Click Here to Check Out Brian Ross Slideshows Dadullah has been quite busy since his release. He reportedly organized the deal to obtain his brother’s dead body for burial in exchange for the release of four medical workers. Dadullah also received a condolence letter from Osama bin Laden following the death of his brother. Journalist Daniel Mastrogiacomo was kidnapped along with his interpreter and driver by Taliban fighters in early March. A hostage trade was negotiated, in part by an Italian-run hospital organization, for his release in exchange for the release of five senior Taliban commanders that were in the custody of the Afghan federal government. The deal was harshly criticized at the time, and protests took place in front of the Italian-run hospital. Mastrogiacomo’s driver and interpreter, who were not included in the exchange, were both beheaded. Do you have a tip for Brian Ross and the Investigative Team?

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