Qatar extends travel ban for Taliban 5 swapped for Bowe Bergdahl

Qatar has agreed to keep current security restrictions, monitoring and a travel ban in place for five members of the Taliban and former Guantanamo Bay prisoners who are living there while officials from the Gulf country negotiate with the U.S., a senior State Department official tells CBS News.

The five Taliban members were traded for Army Sgt. Bowe Berghdal, the last U.S. prisoner of war in Afghanistan, in May 2014. As part of the arrangement, the detainees were sent to live in Qatar for a year under the supervision of Qatari authorities.

For the moment, the five will remain in Doha while diplomacy continues.‎ Qatar has not yet agreed to allow them and their dozens of family members to stay. All five are Afghan citizens. Some may want to go home, while others might choose to stay in Doha.

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Qatar has agreed to extend the travel ban on five men released from Guantanamo Bay last year
CBS

‎Diplomats are mindful that Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani is in the early stages of a peace process with the Taliban and do not want to send a signal that his state security apparatus would not be able to handle the return of the five prisoners.

A source with knowledge of the swap told CBS News that the five men are mid-level bureaucrats with no operational value to the Taliban. The biggest risk, the source said, would not be security related but rather the U.S. domestic political blowback.

Regardless of the terms of any deal, the administration is aware that the case of the Taliban 5 has made the already difficult task of closing Guantanamo Bay even harder in part because the five were never cleared for release from the prison.‎ It is looking increasingly difficult for President Obama to accomplish his goal of shuttering Guantanamo within the final 18 months left on his term.

On CBS' "Face the Nation," CIA Director John Brennan said there is an "ongoing process" of discussing what is best for U.S. security.

"They are Afghan citizens and we have been engaged with the Qatari government. I've talked personally to senior Qatari officials about their monitoring of these individuals that have been in Qatar for the last year. And looking what are the arrangements that could be put in place and what is going to be the disposition of these individuals, whether they will be sent back to Afghanistan or able to stay in Doha, so this is continuing," he said.

  • Margaret Brennan

    Principally assigned to the State Department, Margaret Brennan also serves as a CBS News general assignment correspondent based in Washington, D.C.