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Taliban video details Bergdahl prisoner swap



Taliban-video-Bergdahl-exchange.jpg

The Afghan Taliban have published a video showing the release of Bowe Bergdahl, the US soldier who was held as a prisoner of war after leaving his unit in Paktika province in 2009. The video also includes footage of the release of five dangerous Taliban commanders who were exchanged for Bergdahl. The publication of the video is clearly an attempt by the Taliban to capitalize on the propaganda value of the prisoner swap.

The video, which was posted on the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan's Facebook page, shows armed Taliban fighters parked in a field guarding Bergdahl, who is sitting in a Toyota Hilux pickup truck, as two US Blackhawk helicopters circle above before approaching to land.

Bergdahl, who is not handcuffed and is wearing local clothing, is then escorted from the pickup truck and stands with his Taliban guards. The cameraman pans across the landscape to show several fighters in varying positions. A narrator speaks as the cameraman records.

After one helicopter lands, two Taliban fighters (one of whom is holding a white flag) and Bergdahl immediately walk toward it and meet with three men; two appear to be US special operations forces personnel and the other appears to be an Afghan. Two of the these men briefly shake hands with the Taliban, and Bergdahl is quickly escorted to the helicopter.

One of the special forces operators frisks Bergdahl throughout the exchange, clearly looking for a possible suicide bomb.

As the helicopter departs, the words "Don' [sic] come back to afghanistan [sic]" are superimposed on the image.

In the second half of the video, the Taliban show the release of the five senior al Qaeda-linked leaders who were freed from Guantanamo Bay and sent to Qatar as part of the prisoner swap. The video shows a convoy of SUVs driving through Qatar, and then the five commanders exiting the vehicles. Dozens of presumably Taliban officials who have gathered to welcome the freed Taliban commanders embrace each of them.

The five freed Taliban commanders have been identified as Abdul Haq Wasiq, an intelligence official; Mullah Norullah Noori, senior military commander; Mullah Mohammad Fazl, the Taliban's former deputy minister of defense; Mullah Khairullah Khairkhwa, the Taliban's former governor of Herat province; and Mohammad Nabi Omari, a senior leader. JTF-GTMO had previously recommended that all five remain in custody as they posed a threat to the US. [See LWJ reports, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl exchanged for top 5 Taliban commanders at Gitmo, and Taliban says 'five senior leaders' have been 'liberated' from Guantanamo.]



READER COMMENTS: "Taliban video details Bergdahl prisoner swap"

Posted by Jay at June 4, 2014 2:08 PM ET:

We essentially have legitimized the Taliban.
I mean, they now have a political office, run a shadow government especially in the south and east. I think in the video, we should of been the ones with the white flag. Pretty sad.

Posted by Gordon at June 5, 2014 4:59 AM ET:

If this is some publicly-played-out, counter-terror operation where everything is not what it seems to be, then we're all in for a wild ride as the fallout from this drops on everyone's head. The one thing the past 20+ years of dabbling in the use of proxy groups to achieve strategic objectives should have taught the planners and strategists is that once an operation goes green, it's not always possible to control it - even with clandestine operators well placed in their midst. What Obama has done here has given the would-be jihadist and jihadist support community - not to mention the Taliban/Islamic Emirate itself - a gift basket that will embolden thousands more to join their group of choice in any number of regions to participate in the fight. That all of this can be contained to controlled theatres managed by some collective effort is wishful thinking at best - and criminal at worst.

Posted by Bob at June 5, 2014 9:35 PM ET:

What about setting a precedent? We now know the price of a possible deserting soldier is 5 taliban members. What is the price of a General? or a Sergent? This effectively put a price on every one of our military members. If they knew where he was being held the last 5 years then why not just go in and get him? I for one think this smells fishy.