KANDAHAR, Dec 25 The Taliban on Friday released a video purportedly showing US soldier Bowe Robert Bergdahl, who was captured in Afghanistan about six months ago.
A Taliban spokesman said the video, which Nato denounced as 'an affront' to the soldier's family, was issued to highlight its demand for the release of prisoners from US detention centres.
The 36-minute video features Bergdahl, 23, in various poses, including one in front of a carpet, wearing combat fatigues, a helmet and sunglasses and another where he is seen shaven-headed and in grey robes.
The clip also shows news footage of US leaders, Taliban military action, some graphic pictures of what appears to be civilian casualties and apparent abuse of prisoners at US detention facilities.
“I'm afraid to tell you that this war has slipped from our fingers and it's just going to be our next Vietnam unless the American people stand up and stop all this nonsense,” Bergdahl says on the video.
There was no comment from the US military but Nato issued a statement condemning the video. “To release this video on Christmas Day is an affront to the deeply-concerned family and friends of Bowe Bergdahl, demonstrating contempt for religious traditions and the teachings of Islam,” it said.
“We will continue our search for Bowe Bergdahl as well as our efforts to ensure the security of the Afghan people and our coalition partners.” Bergdahl, a private first class who disappeared in Paktia province on June 30, is the first US soldier to be captured in Afghanistan since the US-led invasion in 2001.
In the video, Bergdahl gives his rank, date and place of birth and other family information, as well as deployment details and how he is being treated by his captors.
“I bear witness... I was continuously treated as a human being with dignity.
I had nobody deprive me of my clothes and take pictures of me naked, I had no dogs barking at me and biting me as my country has done to the Muslim prisoners in the jails that I mentioned,” he says.
“We are ready to release him in exchange for the release of our prisoners but the Americans are not ready to release our prisoners in exchange for their soldier,” a Taliban spokesman, Yousuf Ahmadi, said.
“He is not being tortured or tormented. He is being dealt with according to Sharia teachings of a war hostage,” Ahmadi added.
'Taliban upper hand'
In July the Taliban issued another video of Bergdahl, showing a visibly shaken, shaven-headed soldier pleading for US troops to leave Afghanistan.
Ahmadi said the second video was released to show the world that the Taliban had gained the upper hand in the war.
In July, a man claiming to be a local Taliban commander told AFP that Bergdahl had been taken across the border to Pakistan.
Ahmadi insisted Bergdahl was being kept inside Afghanistan and had never been taken to Pakistan.
On July 2, a commander of the Taliban's Haqqani faction, which is active in the provinces of Paktia, Paktika and Khost, claimed the abduction.
In the latest video, Bergdahl warns soldiers who are about to be deployed to Afghanistan what to expect on the battlefield.
“So, (to) all you soldiers that are getting ready to come over here for their first time because of the stupidity of our country, our leaders no, you are not fighting stupid farmers.
“No, you are not fighting a small group of terrorist guerilla fighters.
You are fighting an organised guerilla army that has perfected guerilla warfare better than any country has ever perfected it in history. You are fighting very smart people who know exactly how to kill us and are extremely patient.”
Nato said Bergdahl was forced to read the statement on camera.
More than 500 US and foreign soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan this year in the battle against an escalating Taliban resistance.—AFP/ Reuters
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