Bergdahl is assigned to the 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, based at Fort Richardson, Alaska. He went missing on June 30, 2009. Since then, the Taliban has released five videos showing him in captivity. The Taliban have demanded $1 million and the release of 21 Afghan prisoners and Aafia Siddiqui in exchange for Bergdahl’s release. They have threatened to execute Bergdahl if Siddiqui is not released. Most of the Afghan prisoners they want freed are being held at Guantanamo Bay.
At the time of his capture, Bergdahl’s rank was that of Private First Class (E-3). In June 2010, he was promoted to Specialist (E-4) during his absence. On June 17, 2011 he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant (E-5).
Bergdahl is assigned to the 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, based at Fort Richardson, Alaska. He went missing on June 30, 2009. Since then, the Taliban has released five videos showing him in captivity. The Taliban have demanded $1 million and the release of 21 Afghan prisoners and Aafia Siddiqui in exchange for Bergdahl’s release. They have threatened to execute Bergdahl if Siddiqui is not released. Most of the Afghan prisoners are being held at Guantanamo Bay.
In the videos, Bergdahl appeared downcast and frightened. A Department of Defense statement issued on July 19 confirmed that Bergdahl was declared “missing/whereabouts unknown” on July 1, and his status was changed to “missing/captured” on July 3.
In the 28-minute video his captors hold up his dog tags to establish the captured man is Bergdahl. Bergdahl gives the date as July 14 and mentions an attack which occurred that day.
Accounts of his capture differ. The version offered by Bergdahl, in the video, is that he was captured when he fell behind on a patrol. CNN, in its report, cites both Taliban and U.S. military sources, the former alleging he was ambushed after becoming drunk off base, and the latter denying that claim stating: “The Taliban are known for lying and what they are claiming (is) not true.”
A Department of Defense spokesperson, Lieutenant Commander Christine Sidenstricker, said, “I’m glad to see he appears unharmed, but again, this is a Taliban propaganda video. They are exploiting the soldier in violation of international law.”
According to the Associated Press, General Nabi Mullakheil of the Afghan National Police said the capture occurred in Paktika Province. Their other sources inform them that he was captured by a Taliban group led by Maulvi Sangin, who has moved him to Ghazni Province. The Guardian quoted sources who speculated about the increased difficulty of a rescue mission if Bergdahl had been smuggled across the nearby border into Pakistan.
CNN described two Pashto-language leaflets the U.S. military was distributing in seeking Bergdahl. One showed a smiling GI shaking hands with Afghan children, with a caption that called him a guest in Afghanistan. The other showed a door being broken down, and threatened that those holding Bergdahl would be hunted down.
In December 2009, five months after Bergdahl’s disappearance, the media arm of the Afghan Taliban announced the release of a new video of “a U.S. soldier captured in Afghanistan,” titled “One of Their People Testified.” In the announcement the Taliban did not name the American, but the only U.S. soldier known to be in captivity is Bergdahl.
U.S. military officials have been searching for Bergdahl, but it is not publicly known whether he is even being held in Afghanistan or in neighboring Pakistan, an area off-limits to U.S. forces based in Afghanistan.
On December 25, another video was released that features Bergdahl in a combat uniform and helmet. He describes his place of birth, deployment to Afghanistan and subsequent capture. He then makes several statements regarding his humane treatment by his captors, contrasting this to the abuses suffered by insurgents in prisons. He finishes by saying that America should not be in Afghanistan and that it is just another Vietnam.
On April 7, 2010, the Taliban released a third video of Bergdahl, now with a full head of hair and a beard, pleading for the release of Afghan prisoners held at Guantanamo and Bagram.
In November 2010, Bergdahl appeared briefly in a fourth video.
In May 2011, Bergdahl appeared briefly in a fifth video.
In December 2011, it was reported that Bergdahl tried to escape three months earlier but was recaptured after three days.
Threat of reprisal
On February 4, 2010, the Afghan Taliban demanded the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani scientist who was convicted by a U.S. court on charges of attempting to murder U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, and threatened to execute Bergdahl if their demand was not met. The Taliban claimed that members of Siddiqui’s family had requested their assistance.
Reports of joining the Taliban
Fox News reported in August 2010 that a Taliban commander named Haji Nadeem said Bergdahl was helping to train the Taliban in bomb making and infantry tactics. The Pentagon dismissed the reports as Taliban propaganda.
Pentagon refutes Taliban propaganda
NBC’s chief Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski spoke to military and intelligence officials about the story, and they tell him the report is far from credible, and to consider the source — a Taliban commander by the name of Haji Nadeem.
“They immediately poked holes in it by pointing out that Nadeem said when Bergdahl was captured after walking away from his combat outpost, for whatever reason, that when the Taliban took him into custody they made him take off all his clothes and his body armor for fear that there was a GPS locator implanted in either the armor or his clothing. But the fact of the matter is Bowe left the base with nothing more than a compass and a bottle of water. He left his weapon and his body armor behind, so the story already doesn’t hold much water from the get-go. And the fact that the source of the information is actually a Taliban commander of sorts indicates it is nothing more than pure propaganda.”
Miklaszewski says the military continues to focus on Bergdahl’s safe return.
A spokesman for Bowe Robert Bergdahl’s family says the family has no comment
Since we do not know the truth about our soldier in captivity; we can only assume he is trying to stay alive until he is rescued. If this story were to gain traction with the national news media it would go far in keeping him alive. Every American citizen should be writing, calling, and emailing their state senator, and congressperson for the release of this young soldier. If it were your brother, son, boyfriend, or husband you would not stop until you were sure your loved one was safe.
It is up to you to help Bowe because clearly he can not help himself at this time. Please pray for the safe return of Bowe Robert Bergdahl, and share this story. It is the least you can do for one of our men who went to fight for your country.