Taliban video claims to be of captured US soldier

Thursday, December 24, 2009

KABUL – The Taliban released Friday a video purporting to show a U.S. soldier who was captured more than five months ago in eastern Afghanistan.

The media arm of the Afghan Taliban announced last week on an affiliated Web site that a new videotape of Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl was forthcoming. They did not name the American captive, but the only one known is Bergdahl, a U.S. airborne infantryman who was captured by the Afghan Taliban in Paktika province on June 30.

It could not be confirmed immediately that it was Bergdahl in the new video, which was released to The Associated Press and other news organizations. A man is shown seated, facing the camera, wearing sunglasses and what appears to be a U.S. military helmet and uniform. A caption below the man speaking says "War prisoner: Bowe Robert Bergdahl."

On one side of the image it says: "An American soldier imprisoned by the Mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan."

The man identifies himself as Bergdahl, born in Sun Valley, Idaho, and gives his rank, birth date, blood type and mother's maiden name. He appears healthy and speaks calmly and clearly, and doesn't appear to be under duress.

Earlier in the video he says, "This is just going to be the next Vietnam unless the American people stand up and stop all this nonsense."

The video, which has an English-language narration in parts, also shows images of prisoners being abused and says this is not the case with Bergdahl.

The insurgents also released a video of Bergdahl a few weeks after he was captured. In the July 19 video, Bergdahl appeared downcast and frightened.

Bergdahl was serving with a unit based in Fort Richardson, Alaska, when he vanished just five months after arriving in Afghanistan. He was serving at a base near the border with Pakistan in an area known to be a Taliban stronghold.

U.S. military officials have searched for Bergdahl, but it is not publicly known whether he is even being held in Afghanistan or neighboring Pakistan.

Lt. Col. Tim Marsano, an Idaho National Guard spokesman who has been serving as a liaison between the family and media, said late Thursday night that the family had not seen the video since word of its possible release surfaced earlier this month. He spoke with Bob and Jani Bergdahl, Bowe Bergdahl's parents, earlier this week and described their mood as "anxiously awaiting" any new information about their son.

"They're very hopeful that the message will be a positive one, as far as their son's health and welfare," Marsano said.

Marsano said the family still wasn't speaking publicly about Bergdahl's capture.



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