Friday, 2 August 2013

Supping With Shaitans Children

US Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl holds something of an unwanted unique distinction. He is the only US soldier held by the Taliban (well the Haqqani network, an insurgent group affiliated with the Taliban), in Afghanistan.

Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl with Taliban Captor.

The circumstances surrounding his capture are somewhat hazy, certainly his claim to have been captured whilst out on patrol are not considered really credible, and haven’t been backed by up his unit, but what he was doing off base has never been fully established. And of course as John Lindh (aka John 'Walker' Lindh) showed, not all Americans fighting in Afghanistan or Iraq have been prisoners of the Taliban.

John 'Walker' Lindh

Sergeant Bergdahlis father has grown a bottom chin beard and taught himself Pashtun in an effort to try and appeal to the captors directly …. One of his lines was very Churchill like .... "I will not leave you on the battlefield. Your country will not leave you on the battlefield. You are not forgotten.”

As far as anyone can tell he’s still ‘alive’ (although I won’t say ‘well’), his captors have occasionally posted videos and posted letters to his parents on his behalf.

Of course they do this so that they can ratchet up the most emotional pressure on the US via his parents, friends, and family, who would do almost anything to get him back. This is all a bit like Gilad Shalit, the Israeli sergeant who was kidnapped by Hamas, and who was exchanged for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners (including some convicted of multiple murders and carrying out terror attacks against Israeli civilians - according to Israeli government sources, the prisoners released were collectively responsible for 569 Israeli deaths), a decision that many Israeli's saw as surrender. Oddly it also says that just one Israeli soldier, is worth over a thousand Palestinians .... the terrorists don't always get the more subtle messages.

And so the fact that only a couple of weeks ago the Taliban offered a prisoner exchange, to build confidence between the US and Taliban negotiating teams is probably only the first step (certainly the US are unlikely to offer anything like the number of prisoners that the Israeli's did) – currently the offer is said to be for the release of five Taliban from Guantanamo Bay.

It's a controversial idea, and the US may not be politically able to accept even this idea … time will tell, but in the meantime the pressure on the US to do something about their missing soldier will only grow more intense as the date for their withdrawal approaches.

President Obama may yet have to face up to supping with the devils children ....


  1. Good news for US Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl and his family, as it was announced that he has been freed in what has been described as a swap deal for the release of five Afghan Taliban detainees. Presumably the five Taliban from 'Guantanamo Bay' that the US originally offered. He was held for 5 years, and was in good condition and able to walk, when he was released, and is expected to be transferred to Bagram Air Field, the main US base in Afghanistan, and then on to the United States to his family.

    1. Interesting that you don't comment on the fact that he was freed at the cost of treeing real hardline Taliban commanders. There is also still the unaswered question of whether he was in fact a deserter, who cost US lives in the effort to find him - a debate that is raging in the US right now.

    2. Your right of course. In truth the juries out of the 'deserter' tag, which mat never be resolved. I'll make a private wager that if any of the five Taliban commanders leave Qatar, they will end up 'dead' quite soon afterwards. Still we will see.


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