Congressman Steve Stockman

Representing the 36th District of Texas

Stockman to Obama: Did you pay terrorists?

Jun 5, 2014
Press Release
‘Americans deserve to know if the President paid off a terrorist group’ in Bergdahl swap

WASHINGTON -- Congressman Steve Stockman (R-TX 36) transmitted a letter to President Barack Obama Thursday asking if the Obama administration authorized any payment to the Haqqani Network terrorist group in exchange for U.S. Army Spc. Bowe Bergdahl.

The Haqqani Network, which held Bergdahl for five years, funds its terrorist activities in part by ransoming prisoners.  The ransom for a uniformed American service member would greatly benefit the group’s terrorist activities.

“The Haqqani Network generally does not release Westerners unless they receive a large payment.  It would be hard to believe they would release Bergdahl in an exchange that does not directly benefit them,” said Stockman.

“Americans deserve to know if the President paid off a terrorist group,” said Stockman.

Four of the five terrorist leaders Obama exchanged for Bergdaghl are Afghan Taliban, not Haqqani, according to Brad Thor.  They also did not seek the release of a Haqqani commander in U.S. custody.

The Haqqani Network demanded ransoms for other high-profile captives, such as $5 million for Afghan diplomat Haji Khaliq Farahi and $15 million for New York Times journalist David Rohde.  Farahi was freed for his ransom, while Rohde escaped before his ransom could be collected.

aTheir decision to hold Bergdahl themselves suggested to some terrorism experts the group was seeking a large payment for the American service member.

“The fact that Bergdahl remains in his (Haqqani commander Mullah Sangeen Zadran’s) custody and not in Miran Shah under Badruddin’s watch, suggests that Sangeen maintains considerable autonomy within the network and perhaps imagines he will directly earn a ransom payment in exchange for the American serviceman,” writes Gretchen Peters of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in “Haqqani Network Financing: The Evolution of an Industry.”

The text of the letter to the White House follows:

June 5, 2014

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20006

Mr. President:

Your agreement to release five dangerous Taliban leaders in exchange for U.S. Army Spc. Bowe Bergdahl has caused many Americans to doubt whether you have been truthful with Congress.

The release of terrorists is not the only part of the agreement raising concerns about White House actions that may violate the law or place service members in jeopardy.

As you know, the Haqqani Network, which held Bergdahl, is known for financing their terrorist operations through ransoming hostages.  The Haqqani Network generally will not release a prisoner unless they also receive a substantial cash payment.

“(Haqqani commander Mullah Sangeen Zadran) is believed to have orchestrated the kidnappings of Afghans and foreign nationals in his control zone, among them the captured U.S. soldier, Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl...The fact that Bergdahl remains in his custody and not in Miran Shah under Badruddin’s watch, suggests that Sangeen maintains considerable autonomy within the network and perhaps imagines he will directly earn a ransom payment in exchange for the American serviceman (emphasis added),” writes Gretchen Peters of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in “Haqqani Network Financing: The Evolution of an Industry.”

The Haqqani Network demanded ransoms for other high-profile captives, such as $5 million for Afghan diplomat Haji Khaliq Farahi and $15 million for New York Times journalist David Rohde.  Farahi was freed for his ransom, while Rohde escaped before his ransom could be collected.

“It was also clear that Rohde’s captors were motivated by financial self‐interest and a desire to secure the release of Taliban prisoners,” writes Peters.  Bergdahl, a uniformed American service member, was an especially valuable asset to the Haqqani Network.

This has led to concerns the U.S. government, either directly or through a third party, agreed to cash payments as part of the Bergdahl exchange agreement.

I request full answers to the following questions:

1)      Did Bergdahl’s captors, or anyone associated with his captivity, request renumeration in exchange for Berghdal?

2)      Did you or anyone authorized by or associated with your Administration, authorize any form of compensation, direct or third party, in exchange for Bergdahl?

3)      If you or anyone authorized by or associated with your Administration, authorized any form of compensation, direct or third party, in exchange for Bergdahl would you deny it?

4)      Would you agree that cash payments to the Haqqani Network, by any party, assists the Network in carrying out violent and terrorist acts?

5)      Would you agree that cash payments to the Haqqani Network, by any party, constitute material support to terrorists?

6)      The late Michael Hastings, reporting for “Rolling Stone” in 2012, wrote, “’It (Bergdahl’s release) could be a huge win if Obama could bring him home,’ says a senior administration official familiar with the negotiations. ‘Especially in an election year, if it's handled properly.’”  Was the Bergdahl exchange agreement discussed with or shared with anyone on the White House’s political staff?  What was the date and nature of the communication?

I request written answers to these questions within seven days of the date of this letter.

Sincerely,

STEVE STOCKMAN
Member of Congress
Member, House Foreign Affairs Committee

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