February 1, 2023 10:36 am


US Releases Senior Taliban Member Haji Bashir Noorzai in exchange for Navy Veteran Mark Frerichs

Noorzai was detained by the United States in 2005 and was accused of bringing more than $50 million worth of drugs into the United States

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The United States has released Haji Bashir Noorzai, a close aide of Mullah Omar, one of the founders of the Taliban movement.

Reliable sources have confirmed that Haji Bashir Noorzai was handed over to Taliban officials at Kabul Airport today.

Noorzai was detained by the United States in 2005 and was accused of bringing more than $50 million worth of drugs into the United States. He was sentenced to life imprisonment for this and was at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.

According to the Taliban, the release of the Taliban official was in exchange for the release of American engineer Mark Frerichs, who was kidnapped by the Taliban in February 2020.

Haji Bashir Noorzai is one of the founding members of the Taliban movement which began in the 1990s after the erstwhile USSR left Afghanistan. He was also the closest person to Mullah Muhammad Omar Mujahid, the founder of the Taliban movement.

How was Noorzai detained?

Haji Bashir Noorzai was contacted by US officials in 2005 covertly in order to strike a peace deal with the Taliban. He was assured that he will not be detained by the United States if he comes to New York City for the negotiations. However, sources reveal that it was a plan to trap Noorzai by the United States. 

After landing in New York, he was detained by US officials for its alleged drug trafficking business, which the US believed was funding the Taliban war machinery in Afghanistan.

Later, Noorzai’s attorney denied that his client was a drug dealer and argued that the accusations against him should be dropped since American government agents had deceived him into thinking he would not be detained. Since then he has been in American custody.

His Release

Noorzai was released in exchange for the release of US national Mark Frerichs. Frerichs was an engineer and was involved in construction and developmental activities in Afghanistan. Mark was a US Navy veteran.

Mark Frerichs was kidnapped by the Taliban from the streets of Kabul. He was the last and only left US national who was in Taliban custody after the US forces left the war-torn country in August 2021.

The Taliban have been demanding Noorzai’s release since they took over Afghanistan in August last year. 

“I pray for more success of the Taliban and hope for peace between Afghanistan and America because an American (Mark Frerichs) was released and I am also free now,” said Noorzai in Kabul.

The Indian Affairs Staff
The Indian Affairs Staff

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