The American soldier who went missing June 30 from his base in eastern Afghanistan and was later confirmed captured, appeared on a video posted Saturday to a web site by the Taliban, two U.S. defense officials confirmed.
The soldier is shown in the 28-minute video with his head shaved and the start of a beard. He is sitting and dressed in a nondescript gray outfit. Early in the video one of his captors holds the soldier's dogtag up to the camera. His name and Social Security number are clearly visible. He is shown eating at one point and sitting on a bed.
The soldier, whose identity has not yet been released by the Pentagon pending notification of members of Congress and the soldier's family, says his name, age and hometown on the video, which was released Saturday on a Web site pointed out by the Taliban. Two U.S. defense officials confirmed to The Associated Press that the man in the video is the captured soldier.
The soldier said the date is July 14. He says he was captured when he lagged behind on a patrol.
He is interviewed in English by his captors, and he is asked his views on the war (extremely hard), Islam ( wants to learn more it) and the morale of American soldiers (which he said was low.)
Asked how he was doing, the soldier said:
"Well I'm scared, scared I won't be able to go home," he said on the video. "It is very unnerving to be a prisoner."
It is unclear from the video whether the July 14 date is authentic. The soldier says that he heard that a Chinook helicopter carrying 37 NATO troops had been shot down over Helmand. A helicopter was shot down in southern Afghanistan on July 14, but it was carrying civilians on a reported humanitarian mission for NATO forces. All six Ukrainian passengers died in the crash, and a child on the ground was killed.
On July 2, the U.S. military said an American soldier had disappeared after walking off his base in eastern Afghanistan with three (Afghan counterparts and was believed to have been taken prisoner. No further details were released.
A U.S. defense official said the soldier was noticed missing during a routine check of the unit on June 30 and was first listed as "duty status whereabouts unknown." The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case.
Details of such incidents are routinely held very tightly by the military as it works to retrieve a missing or captured soldier without giving away any information to captors.
But Afghan Police Gen. Nabi Mullakheil said the soldier went missing in eastern Paktika province near the border with Pakistan from an American base. The region is known to be Taliban-infested.
The most important insurgent group operating in that area is known as Haqqani network and is led by warlord Siraj Haqqani, whom the U.S. has accused of masterminding beheadings and suicide bombings including the July 2008 attack on the Indian Embassy in Kabul that killed some 60 people. The Haqqani group also was linked to an assassination attempt on Afghan president Hamid Karzai early last year.
On Saturday, a U.S. military official in Kabul, Col. Greg Julian, said the U.S. was "still doing everything we can to return him safely."
Julian said U.S. troops had distributed two flyers in the area where the soldier disappeared. One of them asked for information on the missing soldier and offered a $25,000 reward for his return. The other said "please return our soldier safely" or "we will hunt you," according to Julian.
A number of civilians have been abducted in Afghanistan including aid workers and journalists, both foreigners and Afghans.
But the only other service member that officials could recall who had been captured was Petty Officer 1st Class Neil C. Roberts, a 32-year-old Navy SEAL. Roberts fell from a Chinook and was captured and killed by al-Qaida in March 2002. Later, a second helicopter returned under fire and dropped troops near where Roberts fell. Six more Americans died in the fighting.
Associated Press writers Robert H. Reid in Kabul and Christine Simmons in Washington contributed to this report.