US soldier Bowe Bergdahl, Taliban captive, seen on new video
Bowe Bergdahl is a U.S. soldier from Hailey, Idaho, who was captured in summer 2009 by the Taliban in Afghanistan. Bergdahl appeared in footage contained in a video released this week by the Taliban. Bergdahl’s captors had threatened to kill him shortly after his capture, but a former Taliban captive believes the Army private is safe.
Bowe Bergdahl captured 16 months ago
Bowe Bergdahl appears in the most recent Taliban video clean shaven and apparently suffering from a beating. Bergdahl’s appearance in the Taliban video leads experts to believe that the footage was shot shortly after his capture more than 16 months ago. The video released Wednesday is the fourth Taliban video Bergdahl has appeared in since he was captured in eastern Afghanistan. In other videos he has sported a lengthening beard. The U.S. soldier, believed to be the the only U.S. soldier held by the Taliban, appears briefly in the 45-minute video among clips of militant attacks and a statement from Jalaluddin Haqqani, a senior Taliban commander.
Is Bergdahl cooperating with the Taliban?
In April, Bowe Bergdahl surfaced in a Taliban video denouncing the Afghanistan War and pleading to be released. In August, one of Bergdahl’s alleged captors told the Sunday Times that the American had converted to Islam and had taught him how to convert a cell phone into a remote detonator for a roadside bomb. At the time, Afghan intelligence officials said Bergdahl was cooperating with the Taliban. However, the alleged captor said the information Bergdahl shared with the Taliban was common knowledge and that he was pretending to be a Muslim to keep from being beheaded.
Bergdahl’s propaganda value keeps him alive
Bowe Bergdahl is safe, according to a journalist who was captured by the Taliban in 2008. In an interview with Idaho Public Television, Jere Van Dyk said he didn’t believe the Taliban would harm him. Van Dyk was kidnapped by the Taliban, held 45 days and released. He said the Taliban would try to brainwash Bergdahl and pressure him to become a Muslim. But his value as a propaganda tool is keeping him alive. By letting him live, Van Dyk said, the Taliban are demonstrating that they have changed their ways and no longer behead their captors to terrorize their enemies.