x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

US condemns missing soldier video

The Taliban release a video of an American soldier taken hostage in Afghanistan, the first US troop captured in the country since 2002.

This frame grab taken from an internet video shows a US soldier who was reportedly snatched by the Taliban in Afghanistan in June.
This frame grab taken from an internet video shows a US soldier who was reportedly snatched by the Taliban in Afghanistan in June.

KABUL // The US military has denounced the release of a video showing a soldier captured in Afghanistan, saying the images were Taliban propaganda that violated international law. A military spokesman, Capt Jon Stock, said the man in the video was indeed the missing soldier, whose name has not been released. The military says he went missing in late June. "The use of the soldier for propaganda purposes we view as against international law," Capt Stock said. "We are continuing to do whatever possible to recover the soldier safe and unharmed."

The soldier appeared with his head shaven, speaking to camera. The US military has been distributing leaflets this week seeking his release. The soldier is the first US service member believed to have been captured in Afghanistan since 2002. The soldier is shown in the 28-minute video with his head shaved and the start of a beard. He is sitting and dressed in a nondescript, grey outfit. Early in the video one of his captors holds the soldier's dog tag up to the camera. His name and ID number are clearly visible. He is shown eating at one point and sitting on a bed. The soldier, whose identity has not yet been released by the Pentagon pending notification of members of Congress and the soldier's family, says his name, age and hometown on the video, which was released yesterday on a website pointed out by the Taliban. The soldier said the date is July 14.

He says he was captured when he lagged behind on a patrol. He is interviewed in English by his captors, and he is asked his views on the war, which he calls extremely hard, his desire to learn more about Islam and the morale of American soldiers, which he said was low. Asked how he was doing, the soldier said on the video: "Well I'm scared, scared I won't be able to go home. It is very unnerving to be a prisoner."

He begins to answer questions in a matter-of-fact and sober voice, occasionally facing the camera, looking down and sometimes looking to the questioner on his left. He later chokes up when discussing his family and his hope to marry his girlfriend. "I have my girlfriend, who is hoping to marry," he said. "I have a very, very good family that I love back home in America. And I miss them every day when I'm gone. I miss them and I'm afraid that I might not ever see them again and that I'll never be able to tell them that I love them again and I'll never be able to hug them." He is also prompted by his interrogators to give a message to the American people.

"To my fellow Americans who have loved ones over here, who know what it's like to miss them, you have the power to make our government bring them home," he said. "Please, please bring us home so that we can be back where we belong and not over here, wasting our time and our lives and our precious life that we could be using back in our own country. Please bring us home. It is America and American people who have that power."

* AP, Reuters and AFP