Report: Bergdahl converted to Islam, declared himself a 'warrior for Islam'
Secret reports compiled by an independent contractor working for the US Central Command on Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's captivity reveal that the alleged deserter converted to Islam while being held by the Taliban and, at one point, declared himself "a warrior for Islam."
The reports were obtained by Fox News and were created by an organization known as the Eclipse Group, a network of former intelligence operatives who were able to keep track of Bergdahl almost from the moment of his captivity until 2012.
U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl at one point during his captivity converted to Islam, fraternized openly with his captors and declared himself a "mujahid," or warrior for Islam, according to secret documents prepared on the basis of a purported eyewitness account and obtained by Fox News.
The reports indicate that Bergdahl's relations with his Haqqani captors morphed over time, from periods of hostility, where he was treated very much like a hostage, to periods where, as one source told Fox News, "he became much more of an accepted fellow" than is popularly understood. He even reportedly was allowed to carry a gun at times.
The documents show that Bergdahl at one point escaped his captors for five days and was kept, upon his re-capture, in a metal cage, like an animal. In addition, the reports detail discussions of prisoner swaps and other attempts at a negotiated resolution to the case that appear to have commenced as early as the fall of 2009.
The reports are rich in on-the-ground detail -- including the names and locations of the Haqqani commanders who ran the 200-man rotation used to guard the Idaho native -- and present the most detailed view yet of what Bergdahl's life over the past five years has been like. These real-time dispatches were generated by the Eclipse Group, a shadowy private firm of former intelligence officers and operatives that has subcontracted with the Defense Department and prominent corporations to deliver granular intelligence on terrorist activities and other security-related topics, often from challenging environments in far-flung corners of the globe.
The group is run by Duane R. ("Dewey") Clarridge, a former senior operations officer for the Central Intelligence Agency in the 1980s best known for having been indicted for lying to Congress about his role in the tangled set of events that became known as the Iran-Contra scandal. He was pardoned by the first President Bush in December 1992 while on trial.
Clarridge counts a number of achievements in his spy career as well, including a prominent role in the establishment of a national counterrorism center at CIA, a move widely copied around the world by foreign intelligence agencies. A New York Times profile of Clarridge published in January 2011 disclosed the contractual relationship Eclipse had with the Pentagon, through subcontractors, and reported further that Clarridge's activities had included efforts to help find Bergdahl.
The reports indicate that Bergdahl was able to escape his captors for 5 days at one point, only to be recaptured and placed in a metal cage. At other times, he played soccer with his captors, participated in target practice, and was allowed to carry an AK-47.
While these sitreps were passed on to the commanders at CENTCOM by the Eclipse Group, both commanding generals during that time frame don't remember seeing them. It raises the question of how seriously CENTCOM took the efforts of the Eclipse Group. Their contract was not renewed in 2010. although there are several reasons why the military may have cancelled the agreement.
Whatever his sentiments toward Islam and the Taliban, by late 2012, Sgt. Bergdahl wanted to go home.
How much stock do we put in his conversion and subsequent apparent allegiance to the Taliban? I suppose we'll have to wait to hear from Bergdahl himself. If he still declares himself Muslim, his former allegiance to the Taliban would open him to charges of treason and collaboration with the enemy. If he says his was a forced conversion, the military may give him a break.
As for his alleged desertion, evidence is growing that even if he didn't intend to join the Taliban, he was certainly leaving his post. Whether he can convince the military that he intended to return is open to question. Emails to his parents and testimony from members of his unit would seem to support the idea he had no intention of coming back.
Bergdahl was either going to be released in some sort of swap or he was going to be executed. Given that choice, the military made the deal. The fact that we paid Cadillac prices for a stinking, smoking, oil burning East German Trabant apparently never entered the heads of either Pentagon brass or civilians at the White House.