The official blog of American Veteran Magazine, the national quarterly publication of AMVETS.

Monday, July 20, 2009

UPDATE: Taliban release video of captured U.S. soldier

Over the weekend, the Taliban released a 28-minute video of the U.S. soldier captured in Afghanistan earlier this month. In the interest of good taste, American Veteran refuses to share the Taliban video on this blog.

The video has been condemned by the Pentagon as a violation of international law. AMVETS leaders have also condemned the video, which contains a statement by the captured soldier opposing the continued U.S. presence in Afghanistan--a statement AMVETS believes was clearly made under duress.

Since disappearing from his forward operating base in Afghanistan, the Pentagon has made a concerted effort to protect the identity of the soldier and his family stateside. However, the release of the video prompted the Department of Defense to acknowledge that the soldier is 23-year-old Idaho native Pfc. Bowe R. Bergdahl, who was serving with the Alaska-based 1st of the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment. According to a Pentagon press release, Bergdahl's duty status was officially changed to missing-captured.

This morning, the Associated Press and Military Times reported that Bergdahl's home town was well aware of his capture, but citizens were respecting the family's wishes for privacy in the matter.

Reports conflict over how Bergdahl ended up in Taliban custody. At first, the U.S. believed he walked off of his base in Afghanistan with three Afghan soldiers, apparently leaving his weapon behind. Initial reports from the Taliban suggested that he was stumbling around drunk when they found him. In the video, Bergdahl claims he was lagging behind a patrol.

In the video, Bergdahl appeared to be in good health, though he seemed frightened over the prospect that he may not make it home and his statements sounded coerced. His head was clean-shaven and he appeared to be growing a beard--two traits consistent with the appearance of many Islamist militants.

AMVETS National Commander John C. Hapner reiterated his call on the Departments of Defense and State to do everything in their power to safely return Bergdahl to his unit and his loved ones. Hapner also called on the Afghan government to hold Bergdahl's captors accountable for their actions.

In his open letter, Hapner said that the Taliban video was a clear violation of international law, and chided Bergdahl's Taliban captors for their violations. Hapner's letter will be posted to the official AMVETS Web site shortly.

As this story develops, check back with American Veteran Online for updates.

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