WASHINGTON – Hours after his release by the Taliban, reports claiming that US Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has reverted to Islam during his five-year captivity in Afghanistan and declared himself “mujahid,” or warrior for Islam, have been circulated by Fox News which cited secret documents.
“Bergdahl has converted to Islam and now describes himself as a mujahid,” Fox News cited its source on Thursday, June 5.
“Bergdahl enjoys a modicum of freedom, and engages in target practice with the local mujahedeen, firing AK47s. Bergdahl is even allowed to carry a loaded gun on occasion,” it added.
Bergdahl was released by the Taliban last Saturday after five years in captivity in a bargain to release Taliban members from US military base in Guantanamo.
In the video that showed him being freed last Saturday, Bergdahl was seen being told by the Taliban, “Don’t come back to Afghanistan”.
Yet, he was quickly denounced by his fellow soldiers as a deserter who abandoned his post in June 2009.
Critics have questioned the legality and details of the deal that freed Bergdahl, as well as the circumstances of his capture, which some fellow soldiers say occurred after he deserted his post.
An Army investigation of the incident indicated that he may have left the compound and returned at least once before his capture, said one person who read the report.
The drumbeat against Bergdahl, 28, grew a bit louder Wednesday when one of the sergeant’s ex-Army colleagues suggested the “prisoner” provided intelligence to the Taliban.
According to Fox documents, Bergdahl was successful in one of his escape attempts, during which he stayed away for five days, but when he was re-captured, he was confined to a metal cage “like an animal.”
According to Fox sources, this changed by time, allowing him to enjoy a friendlier atmosphere with his captors.
“Bergdahl plays soccer with his guards and bounds around the pitch like a mad man. He appears to be well and happy, and has a noticeable habit of laughing frequently and saying ‘Salaam’ repeatedly,” the source added.
Bergdahl is not the first to be claimed to revert to Islam during Taliban captivity.
Veteran journalist and former war correspondent Yvonne Ridley reverted to Islam in 2003 after being captured by the Taliban in Afghanistan.