Private Fist Class Bowe Bergdahl. Image from Taliban website.
The Taliban have released a propaganda video of Private First Class Bowe Bergdahl, the US soldier who was captured by the Haqqani Network in June 2009 in Paktika province.
Entitled “Video of the American Prisoner,” the Taliban propaganda video shows Bergdahl dressed in his combat fatigues and wearing his helmet and sunglasses. His uniform is stripped of patches and name tags. The video was produced by Al Emarah [the emirate] Studio, and released on a Taliban website. [Segments of the video are available on The Long War Journal’s Video page.]
Bergdahl recites several Taliban propaganda points throughout the video. He claimed that Western governments are deliberately suppressing casualty numbers of civilians and soldiers killed; that Taliban fighters and civilians alike are tortured; that the US intentionally and indiscriminately bombs Afghan civilians; and that Afghan detainees are tortured while in custody.
Western governments and leaders “lead us to be killed like animals to the slaughter,” Bergdahl said. Afghanistan will be “the next Vietnam unless the American people stand up,” Bergdahl also said.
The Taliban said it would release a new videotape of Bergdahl in mid-December. The timing of the release has infuriated several senior military and intelligence officials contacted by The Long War Journal.
“This was clearly a Taliban ploy to grab a headline and create controversy here in the US on Christmas day,” one official said, noting the tape was prepared to be released over 10 days ago.
Bergdahl was captured by the Haqqani Network on June 30 after leaving his small combat outpost in the eastern Afghan province of Paktika.
The Haqqani Network is the most lethal of the Taliban groups operating in Afghanistan. US intelligence officials contacted by The Long War Journal believe Bergdahl is currently being held in the Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan in Pakistan. The Pakistani government and military refuse to take on the Haqqani Network and other Taliban groups in North Waziristan.
Bergdahl was last heard from in July, when a long interview conducted by an English-speaking Taliban spokesman was released.