July 19, 2009 in Nation/World

Taliban show U.S. soldier

He talks of family on 28-minute video posted to Web site
Pamela Hess And Lolita Baldor Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

This video frame, taken from a Taliban propaganda video released Saturday, shows an American soldier who went missing from his base in eastern Afghanistan on June 30 and was later confirmed captured.
(Full-size photo)

WASHINGTON – The American soldier who went missing June 30 from his base in eastern Afghanistan and was later confirmed to have been captured, appeared on a video posted Saturday to a Web site by the Taliban, two U.S. defense officials said.

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, gray 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 on a Web site pointed out by the Taliban. Two U.S. defense officials confirmed that the man in the video is the captured soldier.

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. 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.”

The video is not a continuous recording – it appears to stop and start during the questioning.

On July 2, the U.S. military said an American soldier had disappeared after walking off his base in eastern Afghanistan with three Afghan counterparts and was believed to have been taken prisoner.

Afghan police Gen. Nabi Mullakheil said the soldier went missing from an American base in eastern Paktika province near the border with Pakistan.

On Saturday, a U.S. military official in Kabul, Col. Greg Julian, said the U.S. was “still doing everything we can to return him safely.”

Julian said U.S. troops had distributed two fliers in the area where the soldier disappeared. One of them offered a $25,000 reward for his return. The other said “please return our soldier safely” or “we will hunt you.”

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