Bowe Bergdahl smiling in photo with Afghan militant chief while captive

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 July, 2014, 9:06pm
UPDATED : Friday, 11 July, 2014, 9:06pm

US soldier Bowe Bergdahl, who was held captive by the Taliban for five years, appeared smiling alongside a commander from the militant Haqqani network in a photo posted on a Twitter account by a supporter of the Afghan Taliban.

Yesterday, the Taliban confirmed the photo had been taken with them while Bergdahl was in captivity.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said that the Twitter account that posted the photo was operated by a Taliban sympathiser who works at a university in Afghanistan.

"Its not our official Twitter, but is operated by someone who seemed to be our supporter and sympathiser. We know he is teaching in a university in Afghanistan and is often using our photos on his Twitter," Mujahid said by telephone.

The account posted the photo late on Wednesday, along with others of Bergdahl, as well as gruesome images of a decapitation. The Twitter account said Bergdahl had been treated with kindness in captivity.

"Bowe #Bergdahl was really impressed when he saw the hospitality of #Taliban He first thought that he will be tortured But he was wrong," the Twitter post said. "He was not shackled in Chains neither was he Tortured, Rather He was Free."

Another photo of him with a Taliban commander showed him looking haggard and worried. The account also said Bergdahl had attempted to escape when the Taliban took him to a market but had been recaptured.

Bergdahl was captured on June 30, 2009 in unclear circumstances. He was released on May 31 in a prisoner swap that freed five Taliban leaders held at Guantanamo prison in Cuba.

He has not spoken to the media since his release, and the Twitter account's description of his time in captivity and the circumstances of the photographs could not be confirmed.

The Twitter account identified the man in the first photo with Bergdahl as the late Badruddin Haqqani, head of operations and financial chief for the Haqqani network.

The group is blamed for some of the deadliest and most spectacular attacks on Nato and Afghan troops in Afghanistan. A drone strike killed Haqqani in northwestern Pakistan in 2012.