Proof-of-Life Videos

"Getting information from me wasn't their main priority. Getting the videos out of me was what they wanted to do." Bowe Bergdahl said the Taliban made more than a dozen videos, but they released only a few of them publicly. In some, he talks about his friends and family back home. In others, he seems to be reciting Taliban talking points. The Taliban released these videos and images at different times over the years, out of sequence. Here, we’re showing them in the order that Bergdahl told Mark Boal they were made.

Bergdahl said these photos were taken the first week of his capture. He is standing with Mullah Sangeen Zadran, the commander who held him prisoner until Sangeen was killed by a drone strike in 2013. The top photo shows up for just a few seconds in an hour-long propaganda video the Taliban released in December 2010. The photo of Bergdahl blindfolded was released in a jihadist video on May 4, 2011.

The Taliban released this video, split into three parts, in mid-July 2009. Together, it is the longest of all the Bergdahl videos made public by the Taliban, with nearly half an hour of Bergdahl talking. He’s wearing Afghan clothes; there’s a little round table with a white tablecloth. Bergdahl told Mark Boal the green drink in front of him is Mountain Dew. In the video, he says he was captured while "lagging behind a patrol"—a lie he said he knew U.S. forces would pick up on; he hoped it would signal that something was wrong.

Bergdahl said they made this one around the same time as the first video. He said he was wearing sunglasses to hide the fact that he was reading from a script; the bed he was chained to, spread-eagle, was just to his left. The Taliban released this video in December 2009.

This one, Bergdahl said, was made almost a year into his captivity, three or four months before his big escape. It was released in April 2010. He talks about his family and does a few push-ups to prove that he is in good health. He told Mark Boal those few push-ups were as many as he could muster at that point.


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