Taliban release last U.S. military prisoner of war


Last Saturday 31st of May, the Haqqani group (Islamist insurgent group) liberated the last American prisoner of both Iraq and Afghanistan war. Bowe Bergdah, an American soldier who was held hostage since the 30th of June 2009, was released in exchange of five Taliban detainees at Guantanamo Bay prison.

 

Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl was delivered to the U.S. Special Forces in the east of Afghanistan, near the border with Pakistan. Authorities declared that during the exchange there was no violence and that Bergdahl was in good condition and able to walk. However he was taken to an American military hospital in Germany after receiving medical care at Bagram Air Base, the main U.S. base in Afghanistan. Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren said that Bergdahl is showing improvement during his treatment after nearly five years in captivity and that there’s no “set timeline” to move him into an American hospital to continue his medical treatment.

The five Taliban involved in the swap were high-ranking members of the Taliban government (Fazl, Mullah Norullah Noori, Mohammed Nabi, Khairullah Khairkhwa and Abdul Haq Wasiq) who were arrested by the U.S. in 2001. All of them fled together to Qatar in order to culminate the exchange.

 

This operation was the result of indirect negotiations between the United States and Taliban with the intermediation of the government of Qatar. Qatar agreed to take the Taliban detainees and said it would allow the United States to track the five men in the Gulf emirate. Under that arrangement, the United States installed extensive surveillance equipment to monitor their movements and communications.

In his early twenties, Bowe Bergdahl enlisted in 2008 without telling his parents. He was drawn by recruiters’ promises that he would be able to go overseas to help people. Once deployed to Afghanistan, he was disillusioned with the U.S. military mission. In his final email to his parents before his capture, he wrote: “I am ashamed to even be an American”.

After telling his comrades he was disillusioned, Bergdahl disappeared off his base in Afghanistan and was captured by Taliban fighters. After being captured, some fellow soldiers believed he willingly walked away from his post and called him a traitor. That morning Bergdahl’s unit started searching for him, as he didn’t show up for roll call. Members of his army still blame him for the deaths of other soldiers sent out to rescue him.

The price paid for the release of the Sergeant (the liberation of five former Taliban leaders from Guantanamo to Qatar) is a very controversial issue. Although some Republican members of the U.S. Congress have said the prisoner swap was a dangerous precedent, Obama stands by his decision and said on the G7 Summit in Belgium: “I make no apologies for making sure we get a young man back to his parents”. Furthermore, Mr Hagel, US Secretary of Defense, said that “This was the right decision for the right reasons”, “We don’t leave our people behind”.

Finally last Saturday Bowe’s parents appeared with President Obama at the White House to announce their son’s release. Obama argued that the U.S.A. never leaves the men and women in uniform behind. He thanked the government and Emir of Qatar for their help and their assurance to put measures to protect American national security. Due to the allegations of dissertation the American Army is going to review the circumstances surrounding Bergdahl’s capture and authorities say they will not ignore any misconduct by the released detainee. However, John McHugh, the secretary of the US army, said on Tuesday that officials would interview Bergdahl about the circumstances of his disappearance in Afghanistan once completes a rehabilitation programme in Germany. In addition, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff has stated the former detainee should be considered innocent until proven guilty.

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