Video appears to show Taliban fighters
clutching a white flag as they hand over captured
soldier to US special forces.
The Taliban have released footage of the moments of
their handover of US army sergeant Bowe Bergdahl to US
forces after his five years in captivity.
The video posted on Wednesday, which cannot be
independently verified, apparently shows Taliban
fighters walking Bergdahl towards a US military
helicopter while holding a white flag.
A group of men, believed to be US special forces, then
take Bergdahl back to the helicopter after briefly
exchanging handshakes with the Taliban fighters.
Bergdahl, the only US soldier held by the Taliban
after being captured in Afghanistan, was freed on
Saturday in exchange for five senior Taliban members
detained at Guantanamo Bay in a deal brokered by
His release has evoked sharp criticism from some US
politicians, who fear they could return to the
battlefield and pose a threat to Americans abroad.
The Taliban video, entitled "Ceremony of the American
soldier exchange", at one point also displays the
words "Don't Come Back to Afghanistan" superimposed
over footage of Bergdahl.
A male voiceover in the video, laced with religious
music and chants of "Allahu Akbar," said the exchange
occurred in the eastern Afghan province of Khost.
"The Americans contacted us and asked us where was a
good place to meet. We contacted tribal elders to come
and join us, because we do not trust them
[Americans]," the voiceover said, the AFP news agency
US defence officials have said dozens of US special
forces troops backed up by helicopters were sent for
"Fortunately, no shots were fired," Defence Secretary
Chuck Hagel said Sunday. "There was no violence. It
went as well as we not only had expected and planned,
but I think as well as it could have."
Bergdahl is now being treated at a US military
facility in Germany.
The US military's top officer General Martin Dempsey
said on Tuesday that Bergdahl may be disciplined if
the army holds him guilty of misconduct, after claims
from members of his unit that he had been captured in
2009 after abandoning his post.
Al-Jazeera & Agencies
prisoner swap inspires tentative hopes for Afghan
By Michael Pizzi - Al-Jazeera America
Taliban welcomed release of Gitmo detainees and US
troop withdrawal, two conditions for broaching peace
The leaders of Afghanistan's Taliban insurgency have
long refused to broach the subject of peace talks
until its captured senior leaders are released and all
foreign troops depart the country.
So the U.S.'s unprecedented step on Saturday of
swapping five high-profile Taliban prisoners held in
Guantánamo Bay for the only U.S. prisoner of war taken
in Afghanistan — just days after President Barack
Obama announced that almost all U.S. troops would
leave the country by the end of 2016 — gave rise to
hopes for a rejuvenated peace process as the U.S.
prepares to end its longest war.
"Maybe this will be a new opening that can produce an
agreement" between the Taliban and the Afghan
government, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in
an interview with NBC on Sunday.
Just hours after Hagel planted that seed of hope, a
Taliban spokesman denied the exchange would have any
bearing on peace talks. "It won't help the peace
process in any way because we don't believe in the
peace process," said Zabihullah Mujahid.
But in the past six days, some believe the U.S. has
made greater strides toward satisfying what are
believed to be the Taliban's foremost conditions for
entering into peace talks with the Afghan government
than it did during the first 13 years of war combined.
Despite the hard-line rhetoric of mujahid and other
Taliban officials, who in public statements have
always sworn off talking peace, it is believed that
there is a significant faction of the splintered
Taliban leadership structure that is eager for peace.
Some have even sat down for talks with the government
of outgoing Afghan President Hamid Karzai in recent
months, though there has been no indication of
At best, the U.S. has only partly satisfied these
conditions — some troops will remain in the country in
noncombat roles after 2016, and there are plenty of
other Taliban prisoners in U.S. custody — but the
timing seems to suggest renewed U.S. resolve to
kick-start talks between the insurgents and the Karzai
withdrawal looms, Taliban ponders talking peace
By Michael Pizzi - Al-Jazeera America
After 13 years of war in Afghanistan, with the
looming exit of foreign troops, Taliban said to be
ripe for compromise
The longest war in America's history will be concluded
by year's end, with the enemy undefeated. U.S. combat
forces are preparing to depart Afghanistan having
failed to stamp out the Taliban, which still poses a
formidable threat to the fragile political and
security order the U.S. will leave behind.
Vastly superior U.S. firepower was able to
periodically scatter Taliban fighters back into the
Afghan countryside, but not to stop them from
returning. For most analysts, Taliban resilience was
partly a product of help from neighboring Pakistan.
Not so, say the fighters featured in an upcoming Al
Jazeera Fault Lines episode, "On the Front Lines With
"If we see any Pakistani forces we'll fight them too,"
said one Taliban fighter, from Logar province, in
eastern Afghanistan. "Whoever tries to conquer our
country — Pakistanis or other foreigners — we'll fight
them until the end. Until there is not even one
foreign soldier here, we will never make peace."
Still, the U.S. withdrawal, perhaps counterintuitively,
creates a moment of hope for war-weary Afghans: If the
Taliban is to be taken at its word, the U.S. departure
would seem to remove the insurgency's purpose,
diminishing the basis for its narrative of resistance
against foreign troops. And with the country's first
democratic transfer of power scheduled to take place
after elections next month, many Afghans hope the
Taliban's leadership might be more receptive to the
idea of peace talks with the successor to President
Hamid Karzai. Despite a recent chill in his relations
with Washington, Karzai is widely viewed as an
"The Taliban are ripe for talks and compromise," said
Ahmed Rashid, the Pakistani author of several books on
Afghanistan and the Taliban, in a phone interview from
his home in Lahore. The Taliban have sustained heavy
casualties, and the leadership is ready to return home
to Afghanistan, Rashid said.
"There is a peace lobby in the Taliban who will want
to resume broken negotiations once the U.S. leaves,"
he said. "But the Taliban will have to make an
internal political decision after next month's
elections. Everything is on hold until then."
U.S. officials don't expect the withdrawal to have a
significant impact on the balance of power between
Afghan and Taliban forces — security responsibilities
have long since been transferred to the Afghan
National Army and its constituent forces. But it could
not have come at a more pivotal moment for the fragile