'Taliban 5' Travel Ban Extended for Further Negotiations

PHOTO: Fighters with Afghanistans Taliban militia stand on a hillside at Maydan Shahr in Wardak province, west of Kabul, in this Sept. 26, 2008 file photo.STR/AFP/Getty Images
Fighters with Afghanistan's Taliban militia stand on a hillside at Maydan Shahr in Wardak province, west of Kabul, in this Sept. 26, 2008 file photo.

The State Department has worked a deal with the government of Qatar to extend a travel ban on the so-called "Taliban 5" for another few days while they negotiate a potential 6-month extension on the ban.

The original year-long ban was set to expire on Monday.

One year ago, five high-value Taliban detainees at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility were freed to Qatar in exchange for the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. The highly controversial deal called for the Qataris to monitor the five men for one year and to restrict them from moving outside the country. Critics of that plan have been calling on the Obama administration to extend that travel ban.

"We are in close contact with our Qatari counterparts on this issue, and continue to work to make sure these individuals do not pose a threat to the United States," a senior State Department official said in an emailed statement to ABC News.

"The Government of Qatar has agreed to maintain the current restrictive conditions on these individuals as we continue these discussions," the official's email said. "All five remain in Qatar, where they remain subject to extensive monitoring as well as travel restrictions."

Bergdahl, who was the U.S. military's only prisoner of war in Afghanistan, was charged with desertion nearly a year after President Obama announced his release. Bergdahl was heavily criticized by his former comrades for endangering the lives of those who searched for him and they blamed him for the administration's decision to release five high-value Taliban prisoners.

The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, released a statement last Thursday expressing his desire for the administration to extend the travel ban.

"Unless something changes, those terrorists will be free to return to the fight on Sunday," Thornberry said. "News reports suggest their activities since they left Gitmo are already a cause for concern."

Three of the former detainees attempted to make contact with active members of the Taliban while under supervision of the Qataris, U.S. officials confirmed to ABC News earlier this year.

Thornberry said the release of these former detainees -- many of whom are considered too old to actually pick up arms -- "will endanger our troops abroad and our families at home."

The House Intelligence Committee also sent a letter last week to President Obama requesting the administration work with the Qataris to extend that travel ban.

Comments