July 2009 through May 2011
• Bowe Bergdahl’s Father Asks Taliban for Captured Soldier’s Return
Originally from ABC News (follow to view ABC News video) By AVNI PATEL May 6, 2011
The father of Bowe Bergdahl, the only U.S. soldier to be held in captivity by the Taliban, released a statement on YouTube Friday pleading for the safe release of his son in the wake of the U.S. killing of Osama bin Laden.
“Our son is being exploited. It is past time for Bowe and the others to come home,” said Robert Bergdahl in a video statement posted on-line.
In the three-minute message, he addresses the Pakistani military and thanked the Taliban commanders holding his son.
“Strangely, to some, we must also thank those who have cared for our son for almost 2 years,” said Bergdahl. “We understand the rationale the Islamic Emirate has made through videos … our son’s safe return will only heighten public awareness of this.”
He asked the Pakistani Army, which has been fighting the Taliban in the border region, to help secure his son’s release.
“Our family knows the high price that has been paid by your men in the Army and Frontier Corps. We give our condolences and thanks to the families of those who have fallen for Pakistan.”
The video is the first public statement by Bowe Bergdahl’s father since the Army private first class was captured. In the video, shot against a mountain backdrop, Robert Bergdahl wears a black shirt and a full beard.
The statement follows a video released by the Taliban earlier in the week featuring a 10 second clip of Bowe Bergdahl being blindfolded and led away by his captors. The appearance is the fifth time the Idaho-born U.S. soldier, now 25, has been seen since he was captured in June of 2009 along the Afghan-Pakistani border. Army spokesman Colonel Thomas Collins said that officials were studying the video and could not confirm if the shots were new or different than what had been released in previous videos.
An earlier Taliban video released in December, nearly 18 months into his captivity, showed a gaunt Bergdahl with a cut on his face standing with a senior Taliban commander responsible for his capture.
At the time of his capture, Bergdahl was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, based at Fort Richardson, Alaska before deploying to Afghanistan. He was promoted to Specialist while in captivity.
Bergdahl was lured from his post in eastern Afghanistan by several Afghan National Army soldiers on June 30th, 2009, and then taken by Taliban fighters in a nearby village, according to a senior Pentagon official.
Bergdahl was quickly moved to Pakistan, where he has been shuttled around several locations, primarily in North Waziristan, the Pentagon official said.
Reward Offered For Bergdahl
In the immediate days after Bergdahl’s capture, U.S. forces began distributing a leaflet in eastern Afghanistan that warned, “If you do not release the U.S. soldier, then you will be hunted.” A picture of an American soldier kicking in the door of an Afghan home covers the leaflet.
The U.S. military also had a succession of efforts to locate the missing soldier and free him. Initially, a reward of $25,000 for location tips was offered to Afghans in the eastern portions of the region from which he disappeared. According to a source involved in the effort, a large number of calls flooded, and overwhelmed U.S. military efforts.
Shortly after Bergdahl was taken prisoner, his captors filmed him making a brief statement and drinking tea and released the tape on the internet. They released a second video on Christmas 2009.
In a video released in April, Bergdahl was bearded and dressed in military issue clothing. He held up a newspaper, but the date of the paper’s publication was not visible.
Bergdahl also performed push-ups to demonstrate his physical condition and said he was being treated well, despite being a prisoner.
But Bergdahl began to lose his composure as he talked to the camera.
“Release me please, I’m begging you,” he said.
“I love my family. I haven’t shown it very well because I’ve been pretty lost in my life and I don’t think I’ve given my family the love that they’ve given me.”
“Let me go,” pleaded Bergdahl.
• The December 2010 & May 2011 Videos •
2010 December: In the 69-minute video, Bergdahl, who is seen in just a few seconds of footage that includes a montage of past militant attacks and news events, nods occasionally as if acknowledging another speaker and often looks down at the ground. Produced by Manba al-Jihad, a video production group of the Haqqani network, the video was released on the website of the Afghan Taliban on December 2, 2010 but appeared on jihadist forums the previous month, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks militant websites.
2011 May: The SITE Intelligence Group, says the video released on jihadist forums on May 4th shows Spc. Bowe Bergdahl standing next to Sangin Zadran (Mullah Sangin Zadrain), a senior official in the al-Qaida-linked Haqqani network in Paktika province. Sangin then blindfolds Bergdahl and leads him away (below). The Haqqani network is loyal to the Taliban and has been blamed for some of the deadliest anti-US attacks in Afghanistan. Army spokesman Gary Tallman said officials are studying the video and agreed it appears old and likely a portion of a video which was released months ago (Dec 2010).
• The April 2010 Video •
In the April 7, 2010 Taliban propaganda video, Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl says he wants to return to his family in Idaho and that the war in Afghanistan is not worth the number of lives that have been lost or wasted in prison. It is the first he has been seen since the Taliban released a video of him on Christmas.
The seven-minute video shows the bearded Bergdahl shows performing a few push-ups to demonstrate that he’s in good physical condition. There was no way to verify when the footage was taken or if he is still alive.
Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, an Army spokesman, said he could not immediately confirm the authenticity of the video.
“Our thoughts, prayers, and support remain with the Bergdahl family during this difficult time,” Garver said.
In the sometimes choppy video issued Wednesday, Bergdahl talks about his love for his family, his friends, motorcycles and sailing.
“I’m a prisoner. I want to go home,” he says in the video, which was made available by Washington-based Site Intelligence Group, which monitors militant Web sites. “This war isn’t worth the waste of human life that has cost both Afghanistan and the U.S. It’s not worth the amount of lives that have been wasted in prisons, Guantanamo Bay, Bagram, all those places where we are keeping prisoners.”
At times speaking haltingly, as if holding back emotions, Bergdahl — clad in what appeared to be an Army shirt and fatigues — clasped his hands together and pleaded: “The pain in my heart to see my family again doesn’t get any smaller. Release me. Please, I’m begging you, bring me home.”
He added that he is strong and is “given the freedom to exercise” and to be a human being, even though he is a prisoner.
At the end of the video, a speaker, reportedly Afghan Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, demands the release of a limited number of prisoners in exchange for the American.
Military officials had notice prior to the first video of Bergdahl released by the Taliban last summer, giving them time to alert his family before its public release. It was unclear whether military officials knew this new video was coming.
• The December 2009 Video •
Exerpt from the approximately 35 minute long video:
View Full Version of the December 25, 2009 Video (about 35 minutes)
The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force confirmed that the man in the December 25th video was Bowe Bergdahl, but denounced both its timing and content.
This is a horrible act which exploits a young soldier, who was clearly compelled to read a prepared statement,” said a statement from U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Gregory Smith, ISAF’s spokesman. “To release this video on Christmas Day is an affront to the deeply concerned family and friends of Bowe Bergdahl, demonstrating contempt for religious traditions and the teachings of Islam.”
Lt. Col. Tim Marsano of the Idaho National Guard issued a statement Friday from the family of Bergdahl, who live outside Hailey, Idaho. In their statement, the family urged the captors “to let our only son come home.”
And to their son, the family said, “We love you and we believe in you. Stay strong.
In the video, Bergdahl is shown seated, facing the camera, wearing sunglasses and what appears to be a U.S. military helmet and uniform. On one side of the image, it says: “An American soldier imprisoned by the Mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.” It also shows him eating while wearing garb characteristic of Afghanistan’s Kandahar province, an area where the Taliban emerged in the 1990s.
He identifies himself as Bergdahl, born in Sun Valley, Idaho, and gives his rank, birth date, blood type, his unit and mother’s maiden name before beginning a lengthy verbal attack on the U.S. conduct of the war in Afghanistan and its relations with Muslims.
The video, which has an English-language narration in parts, also shows images of prisoners in U.S. custody being abused. The speaker says he did not suffer such ill treatment.
A statement read by a Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, appears at the end of the video and renews demands for a “limited number of prisoners” to be exchanged for Bergdahl. The statement says that more American troops could be captured.
The Geneva Conventions, which regulate the conduct of war between regular armies, bar the use of detainees for propaganda purposes and prohibit signatories from putting captured military personnel on display. As an insurgent organization, the Taliban are not party to the treaty.
Statements from captives are typically viewed as being made under duress.
• The July 2009 Video •
Below is the Taliban propaganda video, purportedly recorded July 14, 2009 which shows Bowe Bergdahl speaking. The video was posted on the internet and a link to the clip was sent to AFP by Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed early Sunday, July 19.
In the 28-minute video, Bergdahl becomes emotional when he speaks of his family — his parents, siblings, nieces and nephew — and the girlfriend he hopes to marry.
“I have a very, very good family that I love back home in America, and I miss them every day that I’m gone,” he says. “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. I’ll never be able to hug them.”
He adds that he is “scared. I’m scared I won’t be able to go home. It is very unnerving to be a prisoner.” However, he says his captors are treating him “like a guest.”
It’s possible that some or all of Bergdahl’s remarks were scripted by his captors.
The last few minutes of the video show him eating a meal.
“The US military condemns the release of this video by rebels,” a Kabul-based US military spokesman, who requested anonymity, told AFP.
“They’re exploiting the soldier for their own propaganda. US and coalition forces are doing everything they can to recover the soldier and get him back unharmed. The Taliban are using it as a propaganda tool,” he added.