The trade that turned toxic for Obama: Taliban twist the knife with propaganda video of moment fighters waving white-flag-on-a-stick handed ‘deserter’ Bowe Bergdahl over to Black Hawk special forces.

  • Video shows Bergdahl clean shaven in white pickup truck before handover
  • Armed gunman can be seen outside the truck and on the surrounding hills
  • As a Black Hawk helicopter lands he is led by two men towards rescuers
  • Video also shows footage of five detainees arriving in Qatar following release
  • Fellow soldiers have claimed Bergdahl deserted his post in 2009
  • Top military officer has said Army might still investigate Bergdahl, the results of which could lead to desertion or other charges

The Taliban have released a propaganda video which shows the moment U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl was handed over to American troops in eastern Afghanistan.

The trade, which was announced with great fanfare on Saturday, has since become an embarrassment for President Barack Obama as details have emerged of Sgt Bergdahl’s possible desertion and Republicans have accused the President of illegally failing to notify Congress over the prisoner swap.

The video shows Bergdahl clean shaven, with a shaved head and dressed in a white salwar kameez waiting in a white pick-up truck as Taliban militants stand outside.

Armed gunmen can also be seen standing on the hills around the valley as Black Hawk helicopters draw closer to the meeting point.

 

The Taliban have released a video which shows the handover of Sgt Bowe Bergdahl to the American military close to the Afghan border. At the beginning of the footage Bergdahl can be seen in the back of a white pickup truck

The Taliban have released a video which shows the handover of Sgt Bowe Bergdahl to the American military close to the Afghan border. At the beginning of the footage Bergdahl can be seen in the back of a white pickup truck

As two Black Hawk helicopters draw closer Bergdahl can be seen standing outside of the truck, surrounded by armed men

As two Black Hawk helicopters draw closer Bergdahl can be seen standing outside of the truck, surrounded by armed men

One of the men carries a white flag as the Black Hawk helicopter draws nearer

One of the men carries a white flag as the Black Hawk helicopter draws nearer

As one of the helicopters lands, Bergdahl is led to his rescuers by two men, one leading him by the hand and another waving a white cloth tied to a wooden stick

As one of the helicopters lands, Bergdahl is led to his rescuers by two men, one leading him by the hand and another waving a white cloth tied to a wooden stick

The Taliban reporter speaking over the clip says: ‘We told them there are 18 armed fighters and the Americans said that’s alright.’

As one of the helicopters lands, Bergdahl is led to his rescuers by two men, one leading him by the hand and another waving a white cloth tied to a wooden stick.

Most of the Taliban have their faces covered with scarves, while Bergdahl wears his over his shoulders.

 

They are greeted by three men who shake their hands and lead Bergdahl by the arm to the helicopter. The aircraft takes off and the message in English flashes up: ‘Don’ come back to Afghanistan’ [sic].

The video’s authenticity could not be independently verified.

Five years after he was captured by Afghan militants, Bergdahl was freed at the weekend in exchange for five militants held at Guantanamo Bay.

 

The release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in Taliban prisoner swap

Bergdahl is led into the helicopter which then takes off and flies away

Bergdahl is led into the helicopter which then takes off and flies away

Armed gunmen can be seen standing on the hills around the valley as Black Hawk helicopters draw closer to the meeting point

Armed gunmen can be seen standing on the hills around the valley as Black Hawk helicopters draw closer to the meeting point

Most of the Taliban have their faces covered with scarves, while Bergdahl (pictured in the back of the pickup truck) wears his over his shoulders

Most of the Taliban have their faces covered with scarves, while Bergdahl (pictured in the back of the pickup truck) wears his over his shoulders

The 28-year-old is now in a military hospital in Germany, undergoing physical and mental assessments.

The five militants were put in the custody of the tiny Gulf emirate of Qatar, where they are to remain for a year. The video also showed their arrival in Qatar, where they are greeted with warm embraces, while a Taliban victory song is played in the background.

The episode has been an embarrassment to Obama who welcomed the rescue of Bergdahl, but has since faced claims he broke the law by not giving Congress advance notice of the swap.

Republicans in Congress criticized the agreement and complained about not having been consulted about the terms of Bergdahl’s release.

Five years after he was captured by Afghan militants, Bergdahl was freed at the weekend in exchange for five militants held at Guantanamo Bay

Five years after he was captured by Afghan militants, Bergdahl was freed at the weekend in exchange for five militants held at Guantanamo Bay

Bergdahl watches as one of the Black Hawk helicopters draws closer

Bergdahl watches as one of the Black Hawk helicopters draws close

At two points in the video the message in English flashes up: 'Don' come back to Afghanistan' [sic]

At two points in the video the message in English flashes up: ‘Don’ come back to Afghanistan’ [sic]

They say that by unilaterally negotiating the term’s of Bergdahl’s release, the President broke a federal law that requires him to notify members of Congress 30 days before releasing anyone from Guantanamo Bay.

Meanwhile, some of Bergdahl’s one-time comrades assert that the search for Bergdahl after he went missing in Afghanistan on June 30, 2009, may have cost the lives of up to six fellow soldiers who searched for him.

Obama had issued a statement when he signed the law containing the requirement to give Congress the 30 days notice, giving himself a loophole for certain circumstances under the executive powers clause of the Constitution.

Obama, at a news conference in Poland, defended the decision to move quickly on the exchange, saying without offering details that U.S. officials were concerned about Bergdahl’s health.

Obama, at a news conference in Poland, defended the decision to move quickly on the exchange

Obama, at a news conference in Poland, defended the decision to move quickly on the exchange

Days after his rescue, Bergdahl (pictured in a video released by the Taliban in 2010) was in stable condition at a U.S. military hospital in Germany

Days after his rescue, Bergdahl (pictured in a video released by the Taliban in 2010) was in stable condition at a U.S. military hospital in Germany

‘We had the cooperation of the Qataris to execute an exchange, and we seized that opportunity,’ Obama said. He said the process of notifying Congress was ‘truncated because we wanted to make sure that we did not miss that window’ of opportunity.

Obama also said the five Taliban officials’ release was conditioned on assurances from officials in Qatar, where they will have to stay for one year, that they will track them and allow the U.S. to monitor them. Still, the president acknowledged the risk.

‘We will be keeping eyes on them. Is there the possibility of some of them trying to return to activities that are detrimental to us? Absolutely,’ Obama said. ‘That’s been true of all the prisoners that were released from Guantanamo.’

Obama also brushed aside questions yesterday about how Sgt. Bergdahl was captured in 2009.

Jubilant: A pro-Taliban website has previously published a video that claims to show Taliban detainees arriving in Qatar after being released from Guantanamo Bay as part of the prisoner exchange

Jubilant: A pro-Taliban website has previously published a video that claims to show Taliban detainees arriving in Qatar after being released from Guantanamo Bay as part of the prisoner exchange

'Victory': Everyone is clearly jubilant that the prisoners are free and have been released into the custody of Qatar

‘Victory’: Everyone is clearly jubilant that the prisoners are free and have been released into the custody of Qata

Five Taliban Guantanamo prisoners arrive in Qatar

The Pentagon concluded in 2010 that Bergdahl walked away from his unit, and, after an initial flurry of searching, the military curbed any high-risk rescue plans.

‘Regardless of the circumstances, whatever those circumstances may turn out to be, we still get an American solider back if he’s held in captivity,’ Obama said. ‘We don’t condition that.’

The five detainees – Mohammad Fazl, Khairullah Khairkhwa, Mullah Norullah Noori, Mohammed Nabi and Abdul Haq Wasiq – are thought to be the most senior Afghans who were held at the U.S. detention facility in Cuba, having been captured during America’s military campaign in 2001.

A pro-Taliban website yesterday published the footage that claims to show the Taliban detainees arriving in Qatar after being released from Guantanamo Bay as part of the prisoner exchange.

The footage also features in the latest video released by the Taliban.

U.S. President Barack Obama stands with Bob Bergdahl (right) and Jami Bergdahl as he delivers a statement about the release of their son, Sgt Bergdahl

U.S. President Barack Obama stands with Bob Bergdahl (right) and Jami Bergdahl as he delivers a statement about the release of their son, Sgt Bergdahl.

Captive: Bergdahl, pictured in a video released by his captors in 2010, was freed at the weekend five years after he was captured by Afghan militants

Captive: Bergdahl, pictured in a video released by his captors in 2010, was freed at the weekend five years after he was captured by Afghan militants

In the video, released by nunn.asia, a group of men wearing traditional Muslim dress gather on a roadside in what is said to be Qatar.

When the former prisoners – it’s not clear if all of them are present or just a few – pull up in a convoy of black SUVs, they receive a warm reception, with lots of hugs from the awaiting, clearly jubilant, supporters. There is no American presence in sight.

The top military officer in the U.S. has today said the Army could still throw the book at Bergdahl, who walked away from his unit in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan and into five years of captivity by the Taliban.

Charges are still a possibility, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told The Associated Press as criticism mounted in Congress about releasing five high-level Taliban detainees in exchange for Bergdahl.

The Army might still pursue an investigation, Dempsey said, and those results could conceivably lead to desertion or other charges.

 

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