The Taliban has released a new video that purportedly shows a U.S. soldier who was captured in Afghanistan almost six months ago. The video was sent to various media organizations on Friday, along with a demand for a prisoner exchange.
In this new video, a young man who identifies himself as Private Bowe Bergdahl is seen wearing a helmet and army uniform. He stares into the camera from behind dark sunglasses. And he delivers a warning.
"I'm afraid to tell you that this war has slipped from our fingers," he said. "This is just going to be the next Vietnam unless the American people stand up and stop all this nonsense."
The 23-year-old Bergdahl disappeared in late June after leaving his base camp in Paktika with three Afghans. He is the first U.S. soldier to be captured in Afghanistan and Taliban commanders have previously threatened to kill him.
The man in the video describes his treatment at the hands of the Taliban as humane, while images of prisoners being abused in U.S. custody flash across the screen.
"I was continuously treated as a human being with dignity. I had nobody deprive me of my clothes and take pictures of me naked," he said. "I had no dogs barking at me and biting me as my country has done to Muslim prisoners in the jails that I mentioned."
Taliban officials first released a video of Bergdahl back in July, shortly after he was captured, and announced earlier this month that another one was coming. The video concludes with Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, renewing the militants' demands for a prisoner exchange.
IntelCenter, a U.S.-based terrorism monitoring group, says an initial analysis shows the video appears to be authentic. A NATO spokesman condemned the video as a horrible act that "exploits a young soldier, who was clearly compelled to read a prepared statement."
The spokesman also called the timing of the video's release, on Christmas Day, "an affront" to Bergdahl's family and friends.
Senior U.S. military officials have promised to do everything they can to find Bergdahl and bring him back to the United States. Afghan officials say they are working to secure Bergdahl's release.