by Florian Flade
Bowe Robert Bergdahl left his military outpost in Paktika Province on June 30 2009. Hours later he was captured by the Taliban and is since then held hostage by the Haqqani group in the tribal areas of Pakistan.
Bergdahl who is considered to be the only U.S. soldier currently held by enemy forces in Afghanistan or Pakistan, appeared in at least five propaganda videos released by the Taliban. In the videos Bergdahl spotting a full grown beard, is seen urging the U.S. government to fulfill the demands of the hostage takers – the release of Pakistani scientist Aafia Sidiqi, the payment of 1 Million US-Dollars and the release of 21 Taliban militants held by the U.S. and Pakistan.
As U.S. media is reporting now there is a deal underway securing the release of a „Westerner“ from Taliban captivity. On January 31 the Obama ddministration briefed Senate leaders on a transfer deal. Five high-ranking Taliban prisoners held at Guantánamo Bay Prison are about to be sent to Qatar where they shall be held under house arrest.
Among the released are the Taliban´s former interior minister Mullah Khair Khowa, Noorullah Noori, a former governor in northern Afghanistan and former commander Mullah Fazul Akhund.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein meanwhile confirms a prisoner swap as reported by the Foreign Policy Magazine. Feinstein said the deal involved the trade of one Westerner for the five Taliban leaders. She also confirmed the name of the Westerner in question but FP Magazine did not report the name.
Most likely the Westerner about to be exchanged for the Taliban prisoners is the 25 year-old POW soldier Bowe Bergdahl. The only other Western prisoner currently held by Taliban elements in the region is a the American Warren Weinstein kidnapped by Islamists in Pakistan last year and also believed to be held in the Waziristan region of Pakistan.