The Haqqani terrorist group kept Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in relatively good health the past five years because it was always its goal to trade him, U.S. officials said Tuesday.
But the last “proof-of-life” video the Haqqani network recorded showed Sgt. Bergdahl looking haggard and perhaps bruised. One U.S. official said intelligence analysts believe the soldier may have been made to look ill as a ploy to convince Washington he was in failing health and needed to be freed promptly. The video was produced in December and obtained by U.S. military in January.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel cited Sgt. Bergdahl’s health as a prime factor in trading five senior Taliban commanders for his release.
Before that, officials said Sgt. Bergdahl was fed, clothed in local garb and allowed to exercise, and he wrote at least one letter home to Hailey, Idaho.
The U.S.-designated terrorist group wanted the release of senior Taliban fighters who one day could help bring down the new democracy in Afghanistan, so the sergeant’s health was important, a U.S. official said. The official and other sources for this report requested anonymity in order to discuss sensitive matters freely.