A video purported to be released by the Taliban shows the moment U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl was released by them and handed over to American custody. Bergdahl, who was released on May 31, is currently in Germany, where he is being treated; he will soon return to the United States. The original video is 17 minutes long. A cropped version of the video has also been released.
At the end of the video, which was originally sent by a Taliban spokesperson to NBC News, a Blackhawk helicopter is seen arriving at the location where Bowe Bergdahl is to be released. The area is surrounded by armed Taliban militants, as seen when the cameraman pans his camera. A visibly dazed Bowe Bergdahl is then seen led by two militants – one with a makeshift white flag in his hand. He is then handed over to the American officials who quickly perform a search on him and is then taken to the helicopter which takes off within seconds.
Before the helicopter lands, Bowe Bergdahl is seen seated inside an SUV. Planes and helicopters are also seen circling the area. The Taliban fighters are also heard chanting “long live our mujahideen” and “long live the spiritual leader.”
The entire operation – from the touchdown of the helicopter to the handover – did not last more than a minute. As the helicopter lands, the militants are heard shouting “Do not panic,” to the Americans.
The veracity of the Bowe Bergdahl release video is yet to be confirmed, although a Pentagon spokesman RADM John Kirby has told NBC News that there was “no reason to doubt the authenticity” of the clip.
Bowe Bergdahl’s release has since then raked up a huge controversy in the U,S., mainly because his release was secured in exchange for five Taliban insurgent leaders who were being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, since it opened in 2002. The circumstances of Bowe Bergdahl’s disappearance too remain mired in controversy, after it was reported that the US Sergeant had in fact deserted the army. He had allegedly left his base without proper authorization and was eventually captured by the Taliban in 2009; he was in their custody for five years.
The 28-year-old is now in a military hospital in Germany, undergoing physical and mental assessments.There has also been widespread criticism from some members of the Congress in the way President Barack Obama allowed the five prisoners to be exchanged for Bowe Bergdahl. According to them, the action by the president is against the law.
[Image via YouTube]