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Sunday, 19 July 2009

Captured U.S. Soldier Used in Propaganda Video

The American soldier captured by insurgents in Afghanistan has been named by the U.S. Army.

He is Private First Class Bowe R. Bergdahl, 23, of Ketchum, Idaho, and the Army confirmed for the first time today that he is being held hostage by the Taliban.

This disturbing video was released, in which Pfc Bergdahl talks of his family, and his fears that he will never see them again:

As was expected, the Taliban are cynically using him to spread propaganda, in violation of international law. He is clearly being prompted in parts, an he urges the American government to withdraw their forces and go home.

From The Times:

Appearing nervous and frightened, he answers questions in English while drinking green tea.

“I was captured outside of the base camp. I was behind a patrol, lagging behind the patrol and I was captured,” the soldier tells an unseen questioner.

The US Defense Department said in a statement that Pfc Bergdahl was a member of the 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, based in Fort Richardson, Alaska. His status was changed two weeks ago from “whereabouts unknown” to “missing-captured”, it said.

“The use of the soldier for propaganda purposes we view as against international law,” said Captain Jon Stock, a military spokesman in Kabul. “We are continuing to do whatever possible to recover the soldier safe and unharmed.”

The US military has been distributing leaflets this week seeking Pfc Bergdahl's release. A military spokeswoman said that it was the first case she was aware of in which a US service member had been captured and held by the Taleban in Afghanistan.

“Well, I am scared. I’m scared I won’t be able to go home. It is very unnerving to be a prisoner,” Pfc Bergdahl says.

“I have my girlfriend, who is hoping to marry. I have my grandma and grandpas. I have a very, very good family that I love back home in America.”

A voice off camera prompts:“Miss them.”

The soldier continues: “And I miss them every day that I’m gone. I miss them and I’m afraid that I might never see them again and that I’ll never be able to tell them that I love them again. I’ll never be able to hug them.”

In other clips, he appears to be in good health and is shown eating rice.

At one point the voice says in English: “Any message to your people?”

“Yes. To my fellow Americans who have loved ones over here, who know what it’s like to miss them: you have the power to make our government bring them home,” the soldier says.

“Please, please bring us home so that we can go back to where we belong and not over here wasting our time and our lives.”

Asked about the US-led invasion that toppled the hardline Taleban government in 2001, Pfc Bergdahl replies: “Since I’ve been here and I’ve seen how these people live and function, we have indeed invaded an independent state.

“We’re told that civilian casualties that soldiers like myself inflict ... are simply something that we have to accept in a time of war and that we’re told that they don’t matter,” he adds.

His captors show his military dog tags to the camera, with his name visible.

A Taleban commander in southeastern Paktika province has said that his group have the soldier. The June 30 abduction is believed to be the first time militants have snatched an American soldier in Afghanistan since the war began in 2001.

The US-based monitoring group IntelCenter said that the video contained a production group logo that has been associated with Taleban-related videos in the past.

Incredibly, one of the contributors at The Times article writes the following:

Alastair Northedge wrote:
Curious this language of 'hostage taking'. Civilians are taken hostage; soldiers are taken prisoner. I understand perfectly well that you are using slanted language in order to delegitimise the Taleban. In this case, it is so excessive as to be obvious.

Well, soldiers are captured by other soldiers; they are taken hostage by cowardly thugs who hide behind women and prams, only facing their foe when he is heavily outnumbered.

Keep Private Bergdahl and his family in your thoughts.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This soldier will be offered the option of Islam. If he refuses he will be beheaded. That is what happened to many Russian soldiers captured by Afghan mujahhidin. Many Russians refused and were beheaded.

One must understand that the Taleban are playing by the book - literally.