‘Don't Come Back to Afghanistan,’ Taliban Releases Bowe Bergdahl Handover Video
By Sounak Mukhopadhyay | June 5, 2014 9:02 AM EST
Taliban authorities released a video of the handover of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl and emailed it to various media outlets on Wednesday, June 4. Prisoner of War Bergdahl was handed over to U.S. custody during the weekend after five years of captivity.
REUTERS/Al-Emara via Reuters T
U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl (R) waits before being released at the Afghan border, in this still image from video released June 4, 2014. The Taliban have released the 17-minute video showing the handover of Bergdahl to the American military close to the Afghan border with Pakistan, in an exchange for five militants held at U.S. jail Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The video shows a Bergdahl, clean shaven, dressed in a white salwar kameez and with a shaved head, waiting in a pick-up truck as Taliban militants outside lean in to talk to him. He appears to blink in the bright light, assenting as they speak. The video's authenticity could not be independently verified.
According to Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby, the video was reviewed by the Defense Department. However, he said that there was no reason to doubt the authenticity of the video, Fox News reported. "We know the transfer was peaceful and successful, and our focus remains on getting Sgt. Bergdahl the care he needs," Kirby said.
The video shows Bergdahl wearing Afghan clothing. He is sitting in a white pickup van. He was surrounded by several armed Taliban fighters who were spread over the hills. The clean shaven Bergdahl has a shaved head. He blinks quite often and seems to have a problem in his left eye as he is seen rubbing it as if something is stuck. One of the armed men is standing beside him and talking to him. Bergdahl keeps nodding and talks occasionally to him.
One of the Taliban men narrated the video. "We told them there are 18 armed fighters and the Americans said that's all right," he says. He also says that the handover takes place around 4 o'clock in the evening on Saturday, May 31 in the area of Bati in Ali Sher district of eastern Khost province.
Thereafter, a Black Hawk chopper lands. A couple of Taliban fighters with a white flag hand Bergdahl over to the U.S. men who hurriedly take him to the chopper. "Don't come back to Afghanistan," Bergdahl is told, "You won't make it out alive next time." Some of the Taliban men are heard laughing at that. Bergdahl is body-searched just before he is taken inside the chopper. The U.S. men who receive Bergdahl are plain-clothed while soldiers in military uniform wait inside the chopper.
According to The Guardian, the U.S. military may not be happy about the video which revealed Bergdahl's poor condition. It also exposed the face of an elite commando who is supposed to keep their identity secret.
Contact the writer: s.mukhopadhyay@IBTimes.com.au
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