Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Afghan villagers recall when Bergdahl stumbled into their midst

By Kevin Sieff, WashPost
June 4 at 1:34 PM

The Taliban have released a video showing the handover of American soldier Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in Afghanistan.

Among the most tantalizing mysteries surrounding Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s departure from his U.S. military base in 2009 is this: Was he trying to find the Taliban? Or did he simply wander away and get captured? Politicians and members of the military have criticized the Obama administration’s decision to swap five jailed Taliban leaders for Bergdahl, saying the soldier may have deserted.

Until now, few details have emerged about the circumstances of Bergdahl’s disappearance from his base. But The Washington Post has reached Afghan villagers who spotted Bergdahl shortly after he slipped away from his base. To them, it’s clear something was wrong with the American. And he seemed to be deliberately heading for Taliban strongholds, they say.

“It was very confusing to us. Why would he leave the base?” said Jamal, an elder in the village of Yusef Khel, about a half-mile from the American military installation. (Like many Afghans, he goes by only one name). “The people thought it was a covert agenda – maybe he was sent to the village by the U.S.”

Locals remember Bergdahl walking through the village in a haze. They later told Afghan investigators that they had warned the American that he was heading into a dangerous area.

(More here.)

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