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American Forces Press Service

DOD Spokesman: Released Detainees Rejoin Fight at Own Peril

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 14, 2014 – If the detainees the Afghan government released over NATO objections rejoin the fight, "they do so at their own peril," Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said at a news conference today.

The press secretary said the 65 detainees released in Afghanistan yesterday are dangerous, and that releasing them was a bad decision for the Afghan people.

Some of those released have American blood on their hands, the admiral said, but he added that he is "not sure that that's the only metric that matters here."

The men should not be free, Kirby said. "We had strong evidence on all of them, evidence that has been ignored. And that's unsatisfactory to us," he told reporters. "It's not just United States forces in Afghanistan who are now victims of this, but so are the Afghan people, because many of these individuals killed innocent Afghans. They're criminals, terrorists. They need to be detained, and they are not now, and obviously, that's a decision that the Afghan government made."

U.S. forces are not mobilizing to go after these individuals, Kirby said, but will continue to go after enemies targeting NATO forces and the Afghan people. "Should one of these detainees rejoin the fight, they need to know that they do it at their own peril," he said.

Thursday, the U.S-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan said some of the individuals previously released by the Afghan government have already returned to the fight and that additional released detainees may continue to fill the ranks of the insurgency.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai made the unilateral decision to release these individuals, Kirby noted. "They are still very dangerous individuals who should have remained locked up," he added. "Now they are not. There's not going to be an active targeting campaign … to go after them. That said, if they choose to return to the fight, they become legitimate enemies and legitimate targets."

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