Taliban Posts Video with Captive US Soldier

Today The Taliban released a video with Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl, a U.S. soldier captured by insurgents nearly six months ago. In the video he denounces the American military effort in Afghanistan as foolhardy and doomed to failure.

Military officials acknowledged that the man shown in the video was Bergdahl, and asserted that he spoke under duress.

Rear Adm. Gregory Smith, the chief spokesman for the NATO forces, called the 36-minute video a "horrible act which exploits a young soldier, who was clearly compelled to read a prepared statement."

Bergdahl, an Idaho native and a member of an infantry unit based in Ft. Richardson, Alaska, is the only U.S. service member known to have been seized by insurgents during the Afghan conflict, which is now in its ninth year. He vanished June 30 from his base in eastern Afghanistan's Paktika province, bordering Pakistan, and military authorities acknowledged at the time that the 23-year-old soldier was believed to have walked away from his post, for unknown reasons, The Los Angeles Times reports.

News agencies also report, the airborne infantryman, originally from the US state of Idaho, spoke clearly and appeared healthy.

He was captured in Paktika province, a Taliban stronghold in eastern Afghanistan, on 30 June.

US Navy Rear Adm Gregory Smith said in a statement: "It reflects nothing more than the violent, deceitful tactics of the Taliban insurgency.

"To release this video on Christmas Day is an affront to the deeply concerned family and friends of Bowe Bergdahl."

The Bergdahl family later issued a statement through the Idaho National Guard, urging the captors "to let our only son come home".

And to Pte Bergdahl, the family said: "We love you and we believe in you. Stay strong," BBC News reports.

It was also reported, the 36-minute video was posted on a Web site affiliated with the Afghan Taliban, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks militant Islamist Web sites. The video alternates clips of Private Bergdahl in a helmet and uniform with those of him in the traditional Afghan shalwar kameez tunic and simple cap worn by many Muslim men here.

He gives his birthplace, blood type and his mother’s maiden name as proof of his identity and then criticizes the United States. He says that unlike the United States, which has tortured Muslim captives “in Bagram, in Guantánamo Bay and Abu Ghraib,” he says, he has been treated fairly. The American Army, he said, gives its soldiers propaganda about the people they are fighting, The New York Times reports.

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