Taliban publicize video of captured U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl

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Monday, July 20, 2009

On Saturday, the Taliban released a video showing Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl, the U.S. solider captured in Paktika, Afghanistan on June 30. In the film, Bergdahl, of Ketchum, Idaho, is shown eating a meal cross-legged on the floor. He appears clothed in a grey shalwar khameez, with a shaved head. In the presence of his jailers, he states, "I have a very, very good family that I love back home in America, and I miss them every day that I'm gone. I miss them and I'm afraid I might never see them again and that I'll never be able to tell them I love them again." He says he is frightened and asks that the United States, "Please, please bring us home so we can be back where we belong and not over here [...]"; U.S. sources have argued that this statement was made under duress.

The events leading to Bergdahl's abduction remain somewhat unclear. Taliban commander Mulvi Sangeen claimed that Bergdahl had gone to a military post on his own, became intoxicated, and was ambushed on the way back to his vehicle. The U.S. military has dismissed this; an anonymous source said, "The Taliban are known for lying and what they are claiming (is) not true." In the video, Bergdahl himself says he had been taken after falling behind on patrol. Anonymous U.S. officials continue to state that he simply left his remote base unarmed on his own. U.S. sources believe that after being captured, Bergdahl was sold up the chain, eventually to a clan leader, Siraj Haqqani.

His family is praying for his, "safe return to his comrades and then to our family." Meanwhile, Navy Lt. Robert Carr, a spokesman for the U.S. military in Afghanistan, says the U.S. is "continuing to do everything possible to recover the soldier and are using all available assets to get him back safely and unharmed." Retired Army Maj. Gen. Bill Nash predicts that U.S. forces will act on several fronts, including intelligence-gathering and counter-insurgency operations. Already, U.S. forces have begun dropping two sets of pamphlets, one stating, "One of our American guests is missing. Return the guest to his home." and the other, "If you do not release the U.S. soldier then [...] you will be hunted." The mayor of Ketchum has said that, "As the mayor, I can say this is a community situation. [...] I trust the leadership of this country, the wisdom of the people who are serving and the decisions that led up to the situation."

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