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Old 04-Sep-2011
NATO killed

and Afghan forces have killed a
former Guantanamo detainee
who returned to Afghanistan to
become a key al-Qaida ally,
international officials said
The militant's death was a
reminder of the risks of trying to
end a controversial detention
system without letting loose
people who will launch attacks on
Sabar Lal Melma, who was
released from Guantanamo in
2007, had been organizing
attacks in eastern Kunar province
and funding insurgent
operations, NATO spokesman
Capt. Justin Brockhoff said.
A NATO statement described
Melma as a "key affiliate of the al-
Qaida network" who was in
contact with senior al-Qaida
members in both Afghanistan
and Pakistan.
Another former detainee who
joined the al-Qaida franchise in
Yemen was killed in a recent U.S.
airstrike there.
Troops surrounded Melma's
house in Jalalabad city on Friday
night and shot him dead when he
emerged from the building
holding an AK-47 assault rifle.
Several other people were
detained, NATO said.
A guard at the house, Mohammad
Gul, said a group of American
soldiers scaled the walls of the
compound around 11 p.m. and
stormed the house, shooting
Melma in the assault. Three others
were detained, Gul said.
Melma joined a long list of
detainees believed to have
reconnected with al-Qaida. In
2009, the Pentagon said 61,
approximately 11 percent, of the
detainees released from
Guantanamo had rejoined the
fight. Experts have questioned the
validity of that number.
About 520 Guantanamo
detainees have been released
from custody or transferred to
prisons elsewhere in the world.
There are 171 inmates still held at
the facility in Guantanamo Bay,
Cuba. President Barack Obama
signed an executive order in
2009 just after taking office
asking for it to be shut down
within the year, but it has
remained open as the
administration has worked to
find ways to deal with the
After the fall of the Taliban, Melma,
49, was given the rank of
brigadier general in the Afghan
National Army and placed in
charge of approximately 600
border security troops in Kunar,
according to a file made public by
But he was suspected of still
helping carry out rocket attacks
against U.S. troops, and he was
captured in August 2002 while
attending a meeting with U.S.
military officials in Asadabad and
transferred to the U.S. prison at
Guantanamo Bay in October that
While imprisoned at Guantanamo
Bay, the U.S. determined he was a
"probable facilitator for al-Qaida
members" and was also thought
to have links to Pakistan's
intelligence service. In 2005, he
was described as a "medium risk"
to the United States.
He was sent back to Afghanistan
in September 2007.
NATO said in a statement that
coalition forces have captured or
killed more than 40 al-Qaida
insurgents in eastern Afghanistan
this year.
In June 2010, then CIA Director
Leon Panetta said only 50 to 100
al-Qaida operatives continued to
operate inside Afghanistan. It's
not clear if Panetta was referring
to commanders or foot soldiers.
In Kabul, meanwhile, a political
standoff over the makeup of the
legislature continued as police
escorted a handful of new
lawmakers into parliament
despite protests from sitting
parliamentarians that the new
group is illegitimate.
In the southern city of Kandahar,
officials said NATO forces killed a
child and a shopkeeper who
were caught up in a firefight
between a military patrol and a
NATO said one of its service
members was killed in an
insurgent attack on Saturday in
southern Afghanistan but not
provide details.
The Danish military said one of its
soldiers was killed in a roadside
bomb that exploded as a foot
patrol was moving past in
southern Afghanistan's volatile
Helmand province, but it was not
immediately clear if that
announcement referred to the
same attack.

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