Video of captured U.S. soldier surfaces
Pentagon confirms image is that missing American
A soldier from Idaho who disappeared from his base in Afghanistan has been captured, the Pentagon confirmed Sunday, a day after he was seen in a Taliban video posted online.
The U.S. Defence Department released the name of Pte. 1st Class Bowe R. Bergdahl, 23, who was serving with an Alaska-based infantry regiment.
The private was last seen walking away from his base near the border with Pakistan in an area known to be a Taliban stronghold.
Even before his name became public, two U.S. defence officials confirmed to The Associated Press that the man in that 28-minute video was the captured soldier.
The video, in which Bergdahl said he was "scared I won't be able to go home," provided the first public glimpse of the missing American.
The Pentagon statement said Bergdahl's whereabouts became unknown on July 1 and his status was changed July 3 to missing-captured.
It wasn't clear who initially captured Bergdahl, but the U.S. command in Afghanistan said he was being held by the Taliban and condemned the video as a violation of international law.
"I'm glad to see he appears unharmed, but again, this is a Taliban propaganda video," spokeswoman Lt.-Cmdr. Christine Sidenstricker said. "They are exploiting the soldier in violation of international law."
Bob Bergdahl, the soldier's father, told the AP on Saturday that the family was requesting that the media respect their privacy.
"We hope and pray for our son's safe return to his comrades and then to our family, and we appreciate all the support and expressions of sympathy shown to us by our family members, our friends and others across the nation," Bob Bergdahl said in a statement issued through the Department of Defence.
His son reported for duty in Alaska in October and deployed to Afghanistan in February.
Soldier's name clearly seen in video on dog tag
In the video, Bergdahl had his head shaved and was seen with the start of a beard. He was sitting and dressed in a nondescript, gray outfit.
Early in the video one captor held the soldier's dog tag up to the camera. His name and ID number were clearly visible. He was shown eating at one point and sitting cross-legged.
He said the date was July 14 and that he was captured when he lagged behind on a patrol. It's clear the video was made no earlier than July 14 because Bergdahl repeated an exaggerated Taliban claim about a Ukrainian helicopter that was shot down that day.
He was interviewed in English by his captors. He was asked his views on the war — which he called extremely hard — his desire to learn more about Islam, and the morale of American soldiers, which he said was low.
Asked how he was doing, the soldier said: "Well I'm scared, scared I won't be able to go home. It is very unnerving to be a prisoner."
He later choked up when discussing his family and his hope to marry his girlfriend.
"I have a very, very good family that I love back home in America. And I miss them every day when I'm gone," he said.
He was prompted by his interrogators to give a message to the American people.
"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," he said. "Please, please bring us home so that we can be back where we belong and not over here, wasting our time and our lives and our precious life that we could be using back in our own country. Please bring us home."