New Taliban video shows captive U.S. soldier

Image:
This still image provided Tuesday by IntelCenter shows the Taliban-associated video production group Manba al-Jihad's release of a video showing Bowe Bergdahl.IntelCenter viAFP - Getty Images
/ Source: msnbc.com staff and news service reports

A new video released by the Taliban shows Spc. Bowe Bergdahl, the only known U.S. serviceman held captive in Afghanistan, with bags under his eyes and what appears to be an abrasion on his left cheek.

The video — the fourth since 24-year-old Bergdahl of Hailey, Idaho, was captured nearly 18 months ago — was provided to reporters Wednesday by IntelCenter, a private, U.S.-based organization that tracks Islamic extremist activities and communications.

His parents, Bob and Jani Bergdahl, have declined to speak with reporters throughout the ordeal, but Idaho National Guard spokesman Col. Tim Marsano told msnbc.com Wednesday that the family has seen still pictures taken from the latest video and confirmed it's him.

It was not clear when the video was made.

Bergdahl, who is shown on the tape wearing Afghan-style clothes, has been held by the Taliban since June 30, 2009, when he disappeared in Paktika province in eastern Afghanistan.

In the 45-minute-long video, he appears thin, but healthy other than a wound on his left cheek, Britain's Daily Mail reported . Marsano told msnbc.com that the apparent facial injury was not present in previous videos showing Bergdahl.

The army private appeared in a tan shirt and without a beard, despite claims from his captors that he converted to Islam while in their custody and adopted the Muslim name Abdullah, the newspaper added.

Marsano said the family has chosen not to comment on claims that Bergdahl has been radicalized by his captors.

Threats against Bergdahl
According to IntelCenter, another man in the video appeared to be the Taliban commander who had once threatened to kill the U.S. soldier.

In July 2009, Taliban commander Mawlavi Sangin's spokesman told The Associated Press in a telephone interview that Berghdal would be killed unless the U.S. stops strikes in Ghazni province's Giro district and Paktika province's Khoshamand district.

The video, which also shows militant attacks in Afghanistan, was released by Manba al-Jihad, a video production group affiliated with the Taliban. Bergdahl appears only briefly in the video and is not the main focus.

Bergdahl has appeared in three other videos that the Taliban released on July 18, 2009, Dec. 25, 2009 and April 7. "While it's certainly a positive sign to see their son alive in these photos and videos," Marsano said, "it's certainly also been a difficult year-and-a-half for the family."

The Bergdahls are "very hopeful that at some point, he'll return to them safe and sound," he added.

NATO spokesman Brig. Gen. Josef Blotz said the coalition was not sure whether the footage was old or new.

"We are still investigating this case and hope Bowe Bergdahl is still fine," he said.

Insurgent attacks in Afghanistan
Separately, two NATO service members died Wednesday following an insurgent attack in southern Afghanistan. The coalition did not disclose their nationalities or details about their deaths. So far this month, 12 members of the NATO coalition have been killed in Afghanistan. At least 671 have died so far this year.

The Afghan Defense Ministry on Wednesday condemned a coalition airstrike that it said mistakenly killed two Afghan soldiers on Tuesday afternoon. The ministry said in a statement that three other Afghan soldiers were wounded in the airstrike in Charkh district of Logar province in eastern Afghanistan.

NATO said it was investigating the incident.

On Tuesday, Afghan soldiers killed a suicide attacker who threatened to blow himself up at an Afghan army base in the Gereshk district of Helmand province in southern Afghanistan, the Afghan Defense Ministry said. The ministry did not disclose any other details of the incident.

Also in the south, one child was killed and two men were injured in a homemade bomb explosion in the Shahjoy district of Zabul province, said Mohammad Jan Rasoolyar, spokesman for the provincial governor.