Insomnia (insomnia) wrote,

Details of hostage swap in Afghanistan emurge.

The Italian reporter who was kidnapped by the Taliban, Daniele Mastrogiacomo, is now apparently out of the hands of the Taleban and is temporarily being detained by tribal elders, who are acting as intermediaries between the two parties. Mastrogiacomo is supposed to be released once the Taliban verify that their prisoners are released. Reports are that the Taliban leaders have been released, but apparently details still need to be ironed out a bit more. It is entirely possible that Italian authorities won't say a thing about Mastrogiacomo until he's safely back in Italy and ready to make a public statement, so it could be awhile before we hear anything.  

I thought it might be worth digging up some details on the Taleban that Afghanistan's government is swapping for the life of the Italian reporter. The main Taliban leader released is this guy... 

Mullah Abdul Latif Hakimi

In 1999, Hakimi reportedly led the law enforcement system in the province of Herat. After the fall of the Taliban government in Afghanistan, he took over duties as the Taliban's head spokesman. A statement by Afghani president Harmid Karzai once described Hakimi as "responsible for so many attrocities in Afghanistan", and his government hailed his initial capture as important, in that it could lead to a wealth of information due to his close links with the leaders of the Taliban movement.

Hakimi was remarkably well-connected while managing the Taliban's communications, and was frequently in touch with reporters and Taliban leaders, through mobile phone or fax. It's also suggested in the reports I've read that Hakimi's overreliance on traditional forms of electronic communication such as mobile phones, faxes, and email may have led to his arrest.

(Next time use couriers, I guess.)

*UPDATE* - It is being reported that Mastrogiacomo was released for five senior Taliban. Two were head of the Taliban "cultural wing", Ustad Yasar and ex-spokesman Latifullah Hakimi, both arrested in 2005. The others were Mansoor Ahmad, a brother of Mullah Dadullah, the Taliban's top military commander, and two commanders named Hamdullah and Abdul Ghaffar.

Mastrogiacomo has been released, has reported back to his newspaper in Italy, and will soon be coming home.  He reportedly witnessed the execution of one of his Afghani assistants. The other Afghani, however, is still in the hands of the Taliban.

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