Was he there because he was kidnapped and held hostage? Or was he a deserter who willingly left his military post and joined Taliban fighters?
The questions are still being answered while the U.S. Army investigates the circumstances surrounding Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s captivity in Afghanistan, following President Barack Obama’s exchange of five Guantanamo Bay prisoners for the Army sergeant. What is likely to spur more speculation about Bergdahl’s multi-year disappearance and captivity is a new photo that surfaced online Wednesday (July 9) showing Bergdahl smiling with one of his Taliban captors.
“In a new salvo in the propaganda war with the West, a previously unseen photograph of what appears to be Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl smiling alongside a senior Taliban commander was posted to a Twitter account associated with the Afghan Taliban.
“A slew of tweets posted late Wednesday claimed that the former Taliban captive, who appeared thin and pale in the image, was treated well during his five years in captivity.
“A Pentagon spokesman dismissed the photo as ‘100 percent propaganda.’ It is not uncommon for captors to release such photos for that purpose, and Bergdahl may have been forced to pose for the camera.”
A message superimposed on the image reads “Recruited for Haqqani,” according to CBS News.
As for the man pictured with Bergdahl, CBS news detailed exactly who he was and why his being photographed with Bergdahl is significant.
“The unverified picture shows Bergdahl, looking very thin, standing with Badruddin Haqqani, who was killed in a suspected U.S. missile strike in August 2012. Badruddin, who was the son of Haqqani network patriarch Jalaludin Haqqani, was said to be the commander of the militant group’s daily operations.
His death – which occurred in the Haqqani network’s stronghold of North Waziristan on the Pakistani side of the border – was a major blow to the group, which has links to al Qaeda, the Pakistani Taliban (TTP) and the Afghan Taliban.”
While NBC was playing it down the middle in their reporting, The Washington Post published an e-mail it said was from Bergdahl to friends sent three days before he disappeared.
In the e-mail, Bergdahl appeared to speak of his disenchantment with his service in the military before writing this sentence: “This life is too short to serve those who compromise value, and its ethics. i am done compromising.”
[Image via the New York Daily News]