Karzai: Afghan Release of Dangerous Militants ‘of No Concern to U.S.’

By Patrick Goodenough | February 13, 2014 | 5:18 PM EST

Afghan President Hamid Karzai & U.S. Sec. of State John Kerry (AP, File)

(CNSNews.com) – Less than a year after Secretary of State John Kerry expressed “great confidence” that U.S. interests would be protected regarding Afghan prisoners, President Hamid Karzai said Thursday that his government’s decisions on prisoner releases are “of no concern to the U.S., and should be of no concern to the U.S.”

The U.S. military regards some of the dozens of prisoners released by Afghan authorities on Thursday as dangerous militants and killers and warns they will return to the battlefield.

“Afghanistan is a sovereign country,” Karzai told reporters in a joint press appearance in Ankara with Turkish and Pakistani leaders. “If the Afghan judicial authorities decide to release a prisoner, it is of no concern to the U.S., and should be of no concern to the U.S.”

Karzai said he hoped the U.S. would “stop harassing” Afghanistan’s judicial authorities. “I hope the United States will now begin to respect Afghan sovereignty.”

“U.S. and Afghan forces risked their lives to ensure the safety of the Afghan people,” U.S. Forces-Afghanistan said in a statement, urging the Karzai government “to consider the potentially lethal effects of today’s releases and its impact on the future security of the Afghan people.”

USFOR-A noted that some of the 65 prisoners released from the Parwan detention facility at Bagram have killed coalition and Afghan forces, as well as Afghan women and children.

“More than two dozen of the individuals released were linked to the production or emplacement of improvised explosive devices, the number one killer of Afghan civilians,” it said.

“We believe some of the individuals previously released have already returned to the fight. Additional released detainees may continue to fill the ranks of the insurgency. With no legal consequences, these individuals may return to the same criminal behavior that led to their original capture.”

Thursday’s releases come 11 months after Kerry said the administration had “great confidence” that U.S. interests would be fully protected following the handover of the Parwan facility to Afghan control.

“We have worked out complete arrangements,” Kerry said alongside Karzai in Kabul. “[Top U.S. commander] General [Joseph] Dunford is here – he is absolutely confident, as is the president of the United States, that in this arrangement, the sovereignty of Afghanistan is fully protected, but that President Karzai agrees there are certain people there who shouldn’t necessarily be out, creating problems.”

“And so we’re very comfortable that the sovereignty is fully protected and the interests of the United States with respect to prisoners are fully protected,” Kerry added. “There’s great confidence about that, or this would not have occurred.”

More than 2,300 American troops, along with another 1,100 from Britain and other contributing nations, have been killed in Afghanistan since the war began in October 2001.

Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow

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