Bowe Bergdahl was captured by Taliban fighters in 2009. Taliban leaders and U. S. officials are scheduled to discuss his potential release later this week. In exchange for Bergdahl’s release, the Taliban wants the U. S. to release five prisoners from Guantanamo Bay. GITMO detainees cannot be released without Congressional approval.
‘May the peace of God and blessings of God be upon you.’
That’s the message the father of the only American prisoner of war in Afghanistan conveyed to his son’s captors.
The message came at a rally Saturday in Idaho, the home state of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who was captured by Taliban fighters four years ago after completing a guard shift at a combat outpost.
Jani and Bob Bergdahl, the parents of captured U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, address a rally held in their son’s honor in Haley, Idaho
The details of his capture differ – the Taliban claims he was ambushed after he drunkenly wandered off base, while U.S. State Department officials deny that claim. Bergdahl – in a video recorded by his captors – says he fell behind while on patrol and was taken by Taliban fighters.
The rally was in response to new hopes that prisoner exchange could be on the table during upcoming peace talks between the Taliban and U.S. officials. Taliban fighters are pushing for the release of five detainees at Guantanamo Bay – and Bergdahl may be one of their only bargaining chips.
Donning a long beard, Bob Bergdahl spoke to roughly 1,000 of his son’s supporters – many of them war veterans – about putting an end to the 12 years of violence in Afghanistan.
‘Bowe, my son, if you can hear me…you are part of the peace process, you are part of ending the Afghan war,’ he told the crowd, according to multiple media outlets who attended the event. ‘Have faith. Do good works. Tell the truth, and have the patience that can only come from God. We are being tested.’
Beard: Bob Bergdahl hasn’t shaved since his son was captured four years ago
Solidarity: hundreds of war vets showed up in support of Bergdahl at a rally in Idaho last week
He went on to say, ‘I will not leave you on the battlefield. You are not forgotten.’
Bob Bergdahl has not cut his beard since his son was first captured. He’s also studied Pashto, an Afghan and Pakistani language he used to deliver the part of his speech intended for his son’s captors.
Bowe’s mother, Jani Bergdahl, said talks of prisoner exchange has her and her family optimistic that their four-year nightmare could be coming to an end.
‘So many of you have come from far away, and we appreciate the sacrifices you made to make this possible,’ she told supporters.
Sergeant Bergdahl: Bowe Bergdahl has been a hostage of the Taliban since 2009
P.O.W.: Bowe Bergdahl is the ‘part of the peace process,’ according to his father
She then sent a message to her son: ‘We love you and are eagerly awaiting your return home’
Last week, State Department officials confirmed that they expect prisoner exchange to be included in the upcoming talks, to be held ‘in the coming days’ in Doha, Qatar.
However, the United States has traditionally not negotiated with hostage takers. Although, officials say no decision has been made about whether to move Taliban detainees out of Guantanamo Bay.
Any plan to release any detainees would require Congressional approval.
Hostage: Taliban forces say they will consider trading Bergdahl for five Guantanamo Bay detainees
Regardless, the Bergdahl’s say they will not stop fighting to win their son’s freedom.
‘A father does not leave his son on the battlefield,’ Bob Bergdahl said. ‘I live in Afghanistan, my phone on Afghan time,’ he said. ‘I will not leave you on the battlefield. You are not forgotten. You will not be forgotten. We pray soon you will come home.’