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Taliban posts propaganda video of Bergdahl's release to U.S. special forces

Bergdahl was released on Saturday in exchange for the release of five Taliban detainees at Guantanamo Bay prison for reasons the State Department said are related to Bergdahl's deteriorating health.
By Aileen Graef   |   June 4, 2014 at 10:51 AM   |   Comments

KABUL, Afghanistan, June 4 (UPI) -- The Taliban has released a video showing the handoff of U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl to U.S. Special Operations Forces with the farewell message, "Don't come back to Afghanistan."

The video, originally posted on the Taliban's website, shows Bergdahl sitting in a white pickup truck in an open field, located in the remote Khost province. He looks confused and is blinking a lot as he gets out of the truck wearing white Afghan clothing. In the video, he looks thin, bald, and does not have eyebrows.

A U.S. Black Hawk helicopter landed in the field as armed insurgents spread out across the surrounding hills. The insurgents were armed with assault rifles, and at least one was in possession of a rocket-propelled grenade.

After the helicopter landed, three men approached the Taliban insurgents carrying no visible weapons and wearing civilian clothes. They shook hands with two of the Taliban and spoke briefly with an insurgent carrying a white flag. The Americans then escorted Bergdahl to the helicopter holding him under the arm, and then quickly frisked him before taking off.

"Don't come back to Afghanistan. Next time we catch you, you won't leave here alive," an insurgent with a scarf over his face warned Bergdahl in Pashto just before his release.

The video also had the words, "Don' come back to Afghanistan" in lettering across the screen.

"Long live the holy warriors of Afghanistan! Long live the great holy warrior and the leader of the believers, Mullah Mohammad Omar!" chanted the rest of the insurgents during his release. Mullah Mohammad Omar is the Taliban leader who has evaded U.S. capture for 13 years.

"When they landed, I was expecting to have words with them, but the soldiers were in a hurry and were so nervous. We shook hands with only a few of them before they fled," said one of the insurgents in the video, adding wryly, "They were in such a hurry they didn't even let us shake hands with Bergdahl [to say goodbye]. It was very strange."

U.S. officials know of the video and have said that they believe it to be legitimate.

"We have no reason to doubt the video's authenticity, but we are reviewing it. Regardless, we know the transfer was peaceful and successful, and our focus remains on getting Sgt. Bergdahl the care he needs," said Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby.

The swap of five Taliban detainees from Guantanamo Bay for Bergdahl has stirred controversy. Qatar brokered the deal between the U.S. and the Taliban without the knowledge of Congress. Several lawmakers have called this a violation of the law and a dangerous precedent. They argue that not only did the U.S. release five dangerous men, but it also put a value on American prisoners and revealed a willingness for the U.S. to negotiate.

Bergdahl is currently receiving medical care in Germany.

Follow @AileenGraef and @UPI on Twitter.
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