Bergdahl Dad's Tweet to Taliban Adds to Controversy

Tuesday, 03 Jun 2014 07:04 AM

By Elliot Jager

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A tweet by Robert Bergdahl to a Taliban figure four days before President Barack Obama announced that a deal had been struck to exchange Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five senior Taliban prisoners has raised eyebrows, The Washington Post reported.

The tweet to @ABalkhi— referring apparently to Abdulqahar Balkhi— read: "I am still working to free all Guantanamo prisoners. God will repay for the death of every Afghan child, ameen."

The tweet has been taken down though screen grabs are circulating on the web. The family has not addressed why the tweet was removed.

Former Republican congressman Allen West blogged: "Folks, this is either a very bad case of Stockholm Syndrome or something far more nefarious is at stake. Regardless, there is more to this than meets the eye of Obama making a unilateral decision and announcement on a Saturday – when he believes no one is watching."

Bergdahl's Twitter feed—@bobbergdahl— also identified with Christians held in Iran and North Korea. He has been prolific on Twitter using the medium to campaign for his son's freedom, the Post reported.

The Taliban made it clear since 2009— when the younger Bergdahl either walked away from his isolated outpost or straggled behind while on patrol, it is not certain which— that they wanted to trade their comrades held in Guantanamo for the soldier.

The father, who was drawn to anthropology in college, studied the Pashto and Urdu languages used by the Taliban, grew a long beard, and became an expert on Guantanamo. Not wanting to be entirely reliant on the government, he maintained regular e-mail contact with a figure he believed was connected to his son's captors, according to The New York Times.

In a 2011 plea to the Taliban, he said, "No family in the United States understands the detainee issue like ours." And in a video that year he said, "Strangely to some we must also thank those who have cared for our son for almost two years. We know our son is a prisoner and at the same time a guest in your home," the Post reported.

In 2013, he told a rally sponsored by the Honor-Release-Return group that the Taliban were treating his son "fairly," according to the Post.

For the first two years of his son's capture, he listened to the advice of authorities, kept a low profile, and coordinated any statements with the military. Afterwards, he went public, expressing a willingness to travel to Afghanistan, in an interview with Rolling Stone, and openly campaigning to trade Guantanamo inmates for his son.

"I'm pushing it hard. We started out by trying to encourage the Taliban to take care of our son. … Now, we're worried that the government isn't concerned enough to put him on the [negotiating] table," he told the Idaho Mountain Express in May 2012.

Related Stories

Release of US Army Sgt. Brings Joy Tempered by Taliban Risk

Bill Kristol: Take Soldiers' Anger Over Bergdahl Seriously

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