Ex-Gitmo detainee now a Taliban commander
* US officials say 20% of released prisoners go back to Taliban
LASHKAR GAH: A man who was freed from the Guantanamo Bay after he claimed he only wanted to go home and help his family is now a senior commander running Taliban resistance to the US-led offensive in southern Afghanistan, two senior Afghan intelligence officials said.
Officials said Abdul Qayyum was seen as a leading candidate to become the next number two in the Afghan Taliban hierarchy.
The story of the former detainee is likely to add to the complications US President Barack Obama is facing in fulfilling his pledge to close the prison at Guantanamo.
Rejoining Taliban: US intelligence says 20 percent of the suspects released from the Guantanamo Bay prison had returned to the fight and that the number has been steadily increasing.
Afghan intelligence officials as well as former Helmand governor Sher Mohammad Akundzada said that one of Qayyum’s key co-conspirators was another former Guantanamo prisoner.
Abdul Rauf, who told his US interrogators that he had only loose connections to the Taliban, spent time in an Afghan jail before being freed last year. They said he had rejoined the Taliban.
Akundzada said he had warned the authorities against releasing both Rauf and Qayyum.
The intelligence officials said Qayyum was given charge of the military campaign in the south about 14 months ago, soon after his release from the Afghan jail to which he had been transferred from Guantanamo. He was made the manager of the battle for the town of Marjah, where NATO troops are flushing out remaining terrorists. ap