DUSTWUN - Part 3

Bowe Berghal was taken captive by the Taliban in June 2009. What follows is a four-part series written by a Special Operations asset that was on the ground at the time.

Bergahl was a traitor. The media circus around his release a typical liberal propaganda campaign to elevate anti-American sentiment and disparage the military. The author of the article will remain anonymous for reasons of security, but his claims have been verified. We encourage you to read the full series from an American operative point of view. 

DUSTWUN - Part 3

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At the end of my seventh day or so of working this problem, I returned to the office of the Afghan Intelligence Colonel. Over another round of Chai and information exchange, I pressed him to leverage his network to set up a meet with the tribe that was holding Bergdahl. By this time the profile of Bergdahl’s captors was becoming clear. Where Bergdahl played out a version of a spoiled brat’s “walk about”, his captors saw opportunity. They had grievances with the local Governor. They wanted to use Bergdahl to get what they thought they deserved. This was the Afghan way. 

During this time the rumors and reports from the US side were that Berdahl had been taken by Haqqani. That was not the case. His captors had sent out word to the Haqqani network asking for a reward, however the initial interest from Haqqani was cool to tepid at best. Their concern was that Bergdahl was mentally unstable; and even though Bergdahl had voluntarily converted to Islam, the Haqqani network was not willing to bring a mentally unstable Muslim convert over the border into Pakistan. We should have paid attention to Haqqani. 

I sat with the Afghan Colonel and we went over the tape that had been released of Bergdahl. We watched it a half dozen times. Other Afghan intelligence types entered the room. They dissected the images… the weave on the bread that was shown in the video was only available in one particular village; the sound of the generators demonstrated a level of wealth; the pattern on the rugs provided insight into the owner and their taste; the food and the way it was served provided understanding of tribal habits and behaviors; the interviewer, his English intonation and his camera skills could only be of a select few people; and Bergdahl himself provided a wealth of clues from his dress, to his mannerisms, to his compliant attitude. The Colonel made some notes. The Afghan cadre discussed what they had seen. He felt sure he knew what village Bergdhal was in. 

“I want to meet with the tribal leader who is holding him. Just me and my interpreter. I will travel in my own vehicle. No military. No guns. You can join me if you wish,” I told him. 

The Colonel called a friend in Parliament. The discussion was brief. He hung up the phone and we waited. A few minutes later the phone rang; it was his Parliament friend again. The tribal leader had agreed to the meet. The location would be set the next day. The Afghan Colonel and I agreed to travel together. We parted, each of us setting about preparing our kit for the next morning. 

The media blast that followed the Bergdahl video was what the Regional Command-East Commander had hoped to avoid. The story was now out. Bergdahl who had been effectively a blip on the radar up to that point became an international star overnight. The elevation of status made him more valuable and Haqqani understood this. The following morning as I walked to the vehicle to meet up with the Afghan Colonel, he greeted me, still wearing his military dress. I knew something was off. He informed me that the meeting had been cancelled. Overnight Haqqani had dispatched a team with an undisclosed amount of cash and had taken control of Bergdahl. From that point forward the chances of getting him back were all but lost. 

 

... Part 4 of 4 coming Friday, 15 June 2018.

Bards of War: Fighting is Everything