Retired Guantanamo Bay officer recalls Taliban threats, slams US 'laissez-faire attitude' toward war on terror

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A former ranking officer deployed to the infamous Guantanamo Bay said he is “afraid” of how the Taliban’s motivations might have changed in the wake of America’s growing apathy, or “laissez-faire attitude,” toward the global war on terror.

Retired U.S. Army Reserve Capt. Montgomery J. Granger recalled to Fox News how officers at Guantanamo Bay would often cover their nameplates and hide their ranks from the detainees out of fear for their safety. It was not uncommon, he said, for inmates to threaten the officers’ and their families’ lives. 

“Many guards would come back, and they would debrief and tell their supervisors that, ‘Yeah, detainee number so-and-so said, you know, he knows my name,’ he’s going to find out where he lives, ‘they’re going to kill my family,’” Granger said, when reached by phone. He later added: “It got to the point where some of them would go in with no rank and no nametag just so they could do their job without being threatened.”

Granger served as the ranking medical department officer at Guantanamo Bay, where he was deployed shortly after the attacks on 9/11, and grew heavily involved in Camp X-Ray’s Joint Detainee Operations Group. He now lives in New York State and has since written several books, including “Saving Grace at Guantanamo Bay: A Memoir of a Citizen Warrior.”

He noted that he observed “every single” Gitmo detainee, many of whom were members of the Taliban, “several times” during his time at Camp X-Ray. 

Montgomery J. Granger (photo provided)
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Congressional records from 2011 indicate the U.S. had detained “almost 800 al Qaeda and Taliban combatants” at Guantanamo Bay. 

The U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 ousted Taliban insurgents from power, but many never left. After they blitzed across the country in recent days, the Western-backed government that has run the country for 20 years collapsed. 

On Sunday, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, saying he had chosen to leave to avoid further bloodshed. 

Afghans, fearing for the future, have been seen in devastating images and videos taking any measures necessary to leave the country. 

When asked if he was fearful of what could happen considering the Taliban insurrection of Afghanistan, he responded, “I’m afraid now.” 

“Before 9/11, I’d say no, they couldn’t care less,” he explained. “One of the things about the Taliban used to be that they could [not] care less about what happened outside the borders … “But that doesn’t mean they haven’t changed. It doesn’t mean they don’t have an alliance with ISIS or al Qaeda or deals with other terrorist organizations.”

During a news conference Tuesday, the Taliban vowed to respect women’s rights, forgive those who fought them and ensure Afghanistan does not become a haven for terrorists.

But Granger said he believes the Taliban are simply “saying what they think we need to hear to avoid an attack on them by the U.S.”

Granger also denounced any notion that the “war on terror” was “just a meaningless phrase.”

“That was on my orders. My first set of orders to go to Gitmo said, ‘In support of the global war on terror.’ So, it’s very real to me. It’s very real to all the guys who were sent to Afghanistan … it’s all real to us, because it has to be real.”

He told Fox News he was not surprised that the Taliban began to take over the country as quickly as they did. He recalled weeks ago speaking with a relative and telling her: “They’re [the Taliban] probably already there” – embedded within the society. 

“This is their M.O. It shouldn’t have surprised anyone,” he said. “Anyone who was surprised at the speed with which this happened isn’t paying attention.”

Granger describes the U.S.’s removal from Afghanistan as being more like a “retreat” than a “retrograde planning.” He called the U.S.-led events in Afghanistan “100% geopolitical farce.”

“Anyone with any military experience knows this,” he said. “It’s only the politicians that put the pressure on you to leave your equipment, supplies, ammunition and people behind — that would never, ever come from a military person because it is in our DNA never to leave anyone behind.”

Fox News’ Tyler Olson contributed to this report, as well as The Associated Press. 

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