KABUL, Afghanistan – Afghan authorities on Wednesday released 55 Pakistani prisoners who were captured fighting with the Taliban and put them on a plane back to their native country -- even though many have been accused of joining Al Qaeda and the Taliban in fighting U.S. forces.
Officials told Fox News that another 55 Pakistanis will be released on Thursday, and up to 900 are expected to be freed within the next few weeks.
The prisoners, all proclaiming innocence and saying they harbor no hatred for Americans, were escorted to buses and taken to the airport in Kabul, where they were searched before being loaded onto a plane out of the country.
A Foreign Ministry spokesman told Fox News he was confident the prisoners would be screened by Pakistani authorities and would not return to Afghanistan. However, intelligence officials said the former prisoners are dangerous men who will pose a future threat to the new Afghan government and Americans stationed in the region.
Some of the prisoners have openly told Fox News that they planned to continue their Jihad -- or holy war -- the minute they got out of jail.
Pakistani officials estimate that more than 900 Pakistanis were arrested following the collapse of the Taliban and the establishment of a new government.
Pakistan was the Taliban government's key supporter before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, but President Pervez Musharraf withdrew his support and joined a U.S.-led coalition to kill or capture Usama bin Laden and destroy his Al Qaeda organization.
Thousands of Pakistani militants crossed the Afghan border during the military operations in Afghanistan to fight U.S. forces and their allies, but most of them were either killed or captured.
Fox News' Jonathan Hunt contributed to this report.