Prior to the Taliban’s capturing Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, they found him wandering around erratically and “cursing his countrymen,” according to two Taliban commanders who spoke to NBC News.
The commanders said they were tipped off by Afghan locals, and shortly thereafter the Taliban seized the opportunity to capture the American soldier.
“Our people at the time couldn’t understand his language, but it was after he was shifted to a safe location, he said he wasn’t happy with his countrymen, but he didn’t intend to convert to Islam or join mujahideen (holy warriors),” said one of NBC News’s Taliban sources.
The Taliban commanders were at first suspicious that it was an American ploy to entrap the Taliban. They thought Sgt. Bergdahl’s actions couldn’t be explained any other way, as there was no precedent for an American seemingly wandering off base to seek out Afghan society and possibly the Taliban. The fact that Bergdahl was out in the open, on his lonesome, seemed implausible.
“As we never saw their [soldiers] patrolling alone… We would ask him how he managed to walk out of his base. He would tell us that it was [a] personal issue,” a Taliban commander told the reporter.
One of NBC’s Taliban sources defected from the Islamist group and is “working to find a negotiated political solution to the Afghan conflict.” The other commander is still embedded in the Taliban in Helmland province, Afghanistan.
A Taliban commander said Bergdahl did not convert to Islam, disputing the Islamist group’s own claims in 2010 when the Taliban said the Sergeant converted to Islam, learned Arabic, and changed his name to “Abdullah.” However, the commander implied that Bergdahl would have liked to convert, but he received too much pushback and dissuasion from his new acquaintances. “[I] think he had deserted his army with a mission and wanted to accept Islam, but our people didn’t trust him. That shattered his belief,” said the commander.
While the Taliban commanders revealed quite a bit of information, they refused to say where they took Bergdahl after his capture in 2009. It is suspected that the Taliban collaborated with the Haqqani Network to secure him somewhere in the south Waziristan region of Pakistan.