Sunday, February 23, 2014

Global Impact: Afghanistan's Taliban Suspends Mediation with US to Exchange US Army Sergeant POW for Five Prisoners at GITMO

According to The Associated Press, Afghanistan's Taliban said Sunday (February 23) they had suspended "mediation" with the US to exchange US Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, 27, for five senior Taliban prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, halting what was considered the best chance yet of securing the Bergdahl's freedom since his capture on June 30, 2009.

In a terse Pashto language statement emailed to The Associated Press, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid blamed the "current complex political situation in the country" for the suspension.

COMMENT: Bergdahl, of Hailey, ID, was last seen in a video released in December 2013, footage seen as "proof of life" which was demanded by the US Government.

Bergdahl is believed to be held in the border regions between Afghanistan and Pakistan, which means they really have no idea where the American is being held, or at least have said nothing to that effect.

Sergeant Bowe Robert Bergdahl USA, who was born on March 28, 1986, who has been held as a prisoner of war by the Afghanistan Taliban since June 30, 2009. On June 30, 2014, he will have served as a prisoner of war for five years.

As an adult, Bergdahl studied ballet at Sun Valley Ballet School in Ketchum. He never owned a car; instead he rode a bicycle everywhere. 

Bergdahl was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division.

During his unit's normal deployment rotation to Afghanistan, he went missing on June 30, 2009, near the town of Yahya Khel in the Paktika Province, which is in the south-east of Afghanistan, right on the border with Pakistan.

The area in which Bergdahl was captured is in close proximity to Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas. According to the US Army, he is believed to be held by the Haqqani Network, an insurgent group affiliated with the Taliban, very likely somewhere in Pakistan.

Since being captured, the Taliban has released five videos depicting Sergeant Bergdahl in captivity. 

The Taliban originally demanded $1 million and the release of 21 Afghan prisoners in exchange for Bergdahl's release.

They threatened to execute Bergdahl if Aafia Siddiqui, 41, was not released. She never was.

Siddiqui is an al-Qaeda loyalist who received a PhD from Brandeis University in 2001 and is now serving a lengthy prison term in the US.

The Taliban later reduced its demand to five Taliban senior prisoners in exchange for Bergdahl's release.

Bergdahl was a PFC (E-3) when captured. He was promoted to Sergeant (E-5) on June 17, 2011, as if a promotion was intended to eradicate the torment and mistreatment he has been forced to endure for nearly five years.

Col. Tim Marsano, spokesman for the Idaho National Guard, said he spoke Sunday with Bergdahl's family and said they declined to comment further.

After four years in Taliban captivity, one can only imagine what sentiments Sergeant Bergdahl and his family feel toward the Obama Administration, which has failed miserably in securing his release. 
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The five Taliban detainees at the heart of the proposal are the most senior Afghans still held at the military prison at the US Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay. The five have been held there since 2002.