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In Qatar, Released Taliban Member Raises U.S. Concerns

One of the Taliban officials who were released last year in exchange for the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has raised U.S. officials' suspicions that he might attempt to reconnect with the group.

The exchange of five men who had been detained at the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay for the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who had been captured in 2009, occurred on May 31, 2014. It set off a range of reactions, from happiness at the soldier's safe return to anger that the Obama administration had released five senior members of the Taliban.

NPR's Dina Temple-Raston reports:

"White House spokesman Josh Earnest was quick to say that that none of the men had returned to the battlefield.

" 'Right now these individuals are in Qatar,' he says, 'and they are subjected to monitoring and mitigation measures that ensures that we are limiting their activities and doing so in a way that protects the national security interests of the United States.'

"The U.S. has been secretly intercepting and monitoring all of the men's communications, and are now concerned about one individual in particular."

"Officials say the monitoring was what suggested that there may have been some illegal contact. They would not say exactly what that contact was."

This week, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told the AP that he had been worried that one of the men had left Qatar, a nation he recently visited. But he added that he's since been assured that all five are still in the country.

The AP says that Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said, "They've had some Haqqani people come to meet with them. ... They're reaching out."

The prisoner swap for Bergdahl has come under close scrutiny; after the Government Accountability Office reviewed the deal last August, the agency said that the " Pentagon didn't give enough notice to Congress and misused nearly $1 million," as we reported.

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
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