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Bowe Bergdahl, left, appeared without beard despite captors’ claim he has converted to Islam in the latest video released by the Taliban last May

Bowe Bergdahl: Prisoner of war, politics and diplomacy

This analysis was written by Jere Van Dyk, a CBS News terrorism analyst and contributor who has spent three decades studying and reporting on the Islamic militant groups of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

(CBS News)May 15, 2012
In June 2009, U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl was captured in Paktika Province, eastern Afghanistan, by men loyal to the Haqqani Network, a militant group based across the border in North Waziristan, Pakistan.

The Haqqani network is tied to, but not directly under the control of, Mullah Muhammad Omar, leader of the Afghan Taliban.

Bergdahl would have been taken away quickly on narrow paths through steep, rolling mountains and pine forests, through valleys, past small villages, and then down across the unmarked border into Pakistan.

The patriarch of the Haqqani Network is Jalaladin Haqqani, who was a U.S. ally in the 1980s, when America supplied his militants with billions of dollars in weaponry to fight the Soviet Union – then a common enemy which had invaded Afghanistan.

Bergdahl’s parents, afraid of the Taliban, of the drone warfare in the tribal areas, and frustrated because they don’t feel the U.S. is doing enough to try to free their son, have given their first interviews to newspapers, in a move aimed at putting pressure on the Obama administration.

They feel the White House is afraid to make a deal with the kidnappers in an election year, due to pressure from members of Congress and Mr. Obama’s Republican rivals who oppose any negotiation with the Taliban.

Robert Bergdahl, Sgt. Bergdahl’s father, has reached out to the Taliban via the Internet. “You do not leave something like this to government officials,” he told The New York Times.

But his move comes with its own risks.

Negotiations, surveillance and politics
The U.S., non government agencies, and private individuals have quietly been trying to find Sgt. Bergdahl since he disappeared. His plight has been part of the negotiations between the U.S. and the Taliban – talks which apparently stalled in March.

I understand Bergdahl’s plight and his family’s fears. In 2008, I was kidnapped by the Taliban. I was hiking in Pakistan’s tribal areas to meet a Taliban leader who said he would take me to meet Haqqani, with whom I had lived as a newspaper reporter in the 1980s.

Taliban hostage, Jere Van Dyk, held for 45 days.

But I was betrayed. I was blindfolded and taken deeper into the mountains, kept with my interpreter and two bodyguards in a small dark room with mud-baked walls. After two weeks a drone appeared overhead and stayed put for a month, 18 hours a day.

After I was released, I asked an F.B.I. agent involved in my case if that drone was there to watch for me or to watch the Taliban. “We brought all assets into play,” he responded.

The U.S., and private organizations, using local spies and by monitoring all cell and satellite phone traffic in the area – and through the use of drones and other technology – probably know the approximate area where Bergdahl is being kept, even if he is being moved around.

The ISI, Pakistan’s military intelligence agency, which, according to the U.S., has close ties to the Haqqani Network, probably knows exactly where he is being kept….MORE HERE

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s father, Bob Bergdahl, promises prisoner-of-war son “will come home”

Bob Bergdahl, father of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, of Hailey, Idaho, who is being held captive in Afghanistan, speaks at the annual Rolling Thunder rally for POW/MIA awareness in Washington May 27, 2012. (AP Photo)

(AP) WASHINGTON – The father of a U.S. soldier who was taken prisoner in Afghanistan thanked the motorcycle riders of Rolling Thunder on Sunday for raising awareness of missing-in-action troops and prisoners of war.

At the annual Rolling Thunder rally on the National Mall, Bob Bergdahl promised his son: “You will come home. We will not leave you behind.”

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, 26, of Hailey, Idaho, was taken prisoner in Afghanistan nearly three years ago. He is the subject of a proposed prisoner swap in which the Obama administration would allow the transfer of five Taliban prisoners long held at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba…. MORE HERE

Captive U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl ‘recaptured by the Taliban after three days on the run following daring escape’

By Leon Watson
11 December 2011

A U.S. soldier held by the Taliban since 2009 has been recaptured after he went on the run for three days.
Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl’s daring escape failed when a manhunt was launched in Pakistan to find him, Taliban commanders said.

He is now facing his third Christmas in captivity.

Sgt Bergdahl has been a prisoner of the Taliban since his capture on June 30, 2009, in Afghanistan.
Since then, he has appeared in a least five Taliban propoganda videos, one of which was released in May.
He is the only known U.S. soldier to be captive of the Taliban…….MORE Here

NOTE: In an attempt to glean more information, I tried to research Jere Van Dyk’s time with the Taliban, but his statements were limited to interviews with Jon Stewart on the Daily Show and the Huffington Post, so I left it! What I do know is that have been instances where journalists have deliberately put themselves in “harm’s way” – not to mention the military with them – to get an inside scoop. I have no proof this was the case with Mr Van Dyk, but he has certainly profited from his 45 day stay. Just sayin …

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