White House Denies It Had Evidence Bergdahl Declared Himself Islam Warrior

Friday, 06 Jun 2014 09:01 AM

By Melanie Batley

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The White House said it had not seen any evidence to corroborate a report that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl converted to Islam during his captivity or declared himself a "mujahid," or warrior for Islam.

"We have seen no evidence of that," deputy national security adviser Tony Blinken told CNN when asked about a Fox News report outlining Bergdahl's behavior while in captivity, according to The Hill.

The Fox News report said that secret documents based on an eyewitness account of parts of Bergdahl's five-year captivity show that at times he had a seemingly friendly relationship with his captors, and was seen playing soccer, frequently laughing, and using the word "salaam," or "peace" in Arabic.

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He also allegedly participated in target practice with his captors and was allowed to carry a gun, the report said. At the same time, it indicated that Bergdahl tried to escape his captors five times, and was punished by being kept in a metal cage.

The report was based on a series of dispatches from October 2009 until August 2012 by a private intelligence agency, Eclipse Group, founded by former CIA officer Duane "Dewey" Clarridge. Thirteen early reports, including one in which Bergdahl reportedly referred to himself as a "mujahid," were sent to Brig. Gen. Robert P Ashley Jr., director of intelligence at U.S. Central Command.

"The idea that we are trying Sgt. Bergdahl in the court of public opinion in abstentia, without giving him an opportunity to give his story and to tell us what happened, frankly, I find repugnant," Blinken added, according to the Hill. "We don't know what happened. We are determined to get to the bottom of it."

The New York Times, meanwhile, reported that the Army produced a 35-page classified report detailing its investigation into Bergdahl's disappearance. It said he wandered away from assigned areas at other times during his service, both during training in California and from his post in Afghanistan, but then returned.

The report, which was based on extensive interviews with members of Bergdahl's unit in 2009, did not make mention of Bergdahl leaving a letter in his tent about being disillusioned with his military service and the U.S. mission in Afghanistan, as some of his fellow platoon members have told the media this week.

It did confirm that Bergdahl had shipped his computer and journal home before leaving his post, and that he left behind his body armor and machine gun.

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