Several hundred members of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan reportedly among the convicts released by the group
The Taliban on Sunday seized the Bagram Airbase, freeing thousands of prisoners that had been detained by the U.S., including key Taliban commanders, senior Al Qaeda operatives, and leaders of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan.
The Bagram Airbase was handed back to the Afghan government by U.S. forces on July 1 as part of Washington’s withdrawal from Kabul. Reportedly, the last of the U.S. troops there left in the middle of the night, without notifying the Afghan armed forces, after shutting off the lights. The base was subsequently looted by locals, with discarded arms and ammunition ending up in the hands of the Taliban. The Taliban takeover of Sunday occurred after Afghan troops stationed there gave up their positions to the fighters without putting up any resistance.
According to local media, the Taliban freed thousands of prisoners upon assuming control. Earlier, Afghan officials had estimated that the U.S. left about 5,000 to 7,000 prisoners in the airbase when the Americans left. U.S. media, meanwhile, cited Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley as telling senators that the freed prisoners would speed up a previous assessment of how quickly terrorist groups would reconstitute themselves in Afghanistan.
Reportedly, several key TTP leaders were among the prisoners released by the Taliban. Among the identified militants are Baitullah Mehsud’s driver Commander Zali, Waqas Mehsud, Hamza Mehsud, Zarqawi Mehsud, Zaitullah Mehsud, Qari Hameedullah Mehsud, Hameed Mehsud and Mazhar Mehsud.
In total, claim journalists, the Afghan Taliban have thus far released around 2,300 TTP commanders and leaders.