Taliban release video of captive US soldier

Private First Class Bowe Bergdahl is seen on a Taliban propaganda tape released on April 7, 2010.

The Taliban have released a videotape of a US soldier captured in eastern Afghanistan during the summer of 2009. The soldier, Private First Class Bowe Bergdahl, is seen pleading for his release while a Taliban spokesman says the US must free selected captive Taliban officials to secure Bergdahl’s release.

The nearly eight-minute-long video shows Bergdahl providing information to prove his identity, pleading for his release, and demonstrating that he is physically fit. At times Bergdahl is emotional. He is seen with a full beard, and is wearing combat ACU pants, an Army PT warm-up jacket, and a patrol cap.

The tape begins with Bergdahl attempting to prove his identity. An inordinate amount of time is spent on this. For nearly four minutes, almost half the videotape, Bergdahl provides information on his background, including names of family members, his past addresses, details about his career in the Army, and hobbies.

Bergdahl then emotionally pleaded for his release from Taliban captivity. He asked the US to release Taliban prisoners in exchange for his release.

“This war isn’t worth the waste of human life that has cost both Afghanistan and the US,” Bergdahl said. “It’s not worth the amount of lives that have been wasted… the amount of life that is wasted in prisons, Guantanamo Bay, Bagram, all those places where we are keeping prisoners.”

“I’m a prisoner,” he said, “I want to go home. Bring me home, please. Bring me home.”

Bergdahl is briefly shown doing leg lifts, squats, and pushups in an attempt to prove he is in good physical shape. “I’m given the freedom to exercise, the freedom to be a human being, even though I am a prisoner,” he says.

During the exercise demonstration, Bergdahl is seen holding a newspaper, however the image of the paper is not clear in the grainy video.

The tape concludes with an audio statement by Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, who chastised the US for not swapping prisoners to secure Bergdahl’s release.

“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has demanded and still demands release of limited number of prisoners in exchange for this American prisoner, Bowe Bergdahl,” Mujahid said. “Unfortunately the arrogant rulers are not ready to any steps in this regard.”

Mujahid also said the surge of US troops into Afghanistan provides the Taliban an opportunity to capture more US troops.

Bergdahl was captured by the Haqqani Network on June 30, 2009, 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 on Christmas Day, 2009, when the Taliban released a video, entitled “Video of the American Prisoner.” The propaganda video shows Bergdahl dressed in his combat fatigues and wearing his helmet and sunglasses. On the tape, Bergdahl said Western governments and leaders “lead us to be killed like animals to the slaughter” and that Afghanistan will be “the next Vietnam unless the American people stand up.”

The first videotape of Bergdahl was was released in July 2009. A bald Bergdahl is seen eating food while conducting a long interview with an English-speaking Taliban spokesman.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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10 Comments

  • TomEgatherion says:

    File this under “lessons learned”. Want to go home? Don’t walk off a base and into hostile territory.

  • Josh says:

    That’s incredibly odd… very poorly made, spelling mistakes are rampant, and why is Zabihullah Mujahid speaking for the Haqqanis. The background sound is also very interesting, sounds like loud trucks and playing kids, you would think the Haqqanis could find a nice, quite room to film this in.

  • blert says:

    What does the Uniform Code of Military Justice proscribe for DESERTERS?

  • Wes says:

    Just wanted to say that this was excellent journalism. Just the facts.
    Thank you

  • KW64 says:

    I hope we never give anything for hostages of any kind beyond the traditional and honorable exchange of equal numbers of soldiers of similar rank. Any other policy encourages hostage-taking.

  • James says:

    What a miserable situation this is… Giving the Taliban multiple prisoners in exchange for Bergdahl(if they keep their word) moves us closer to the prisoner swap policy of Israel(100’s released per captured soldier). Any rescue effort would be diplomatically costly and puts at great risk the lives of rescuing soldiers as well as Bergdahl. I hope this ends with a positive resolution soon.

  • ArneFufkin says:

    @Josh: Odd is exactly the word I too use to describe the circumstances surrounding his disappearance.

  • Ghost Soldier says:

    Why would he have his PT gear on a patrol? He said he ‘fell behind on a patrol’. He obviously didn’t. He left the camp. Please return home safe. He’s an American and a soldier. Then he can answer us as to why he did what he did.

  • Graham says:

    I wouldn’t accuse him of being a deserter because chances are he’s being made to say those things.

  • Mario says:

    @TomEgatherion we dont know the truth until he return home safe….god bless him

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