Afghan villagers who recalled spotting U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl at the time he went missing from his outpost in Afghanistan five years ago said the soldier appeared to be in a haze, and they thought he was high because he looked as if he was deliberately heading toward a Taliban stronghold.
“It was very confusing to us. Why would he leave the base?” Jamal, a Tusef Khel village elder, told the Washington Post in a story published Wednesday. “The people thought it was a covert agenda -- maybe he was sent to the village by the U.S.”
“They tried to tell him not to go there, that it is dangerous. But he kept going over the mountain. The villagers tried to give him water and bread, but he didn’t take it,” Ibrahim Manikhel, the district’s intelligence chief, told the Post. “We think he probably was high after smoking hashish. Why would an American want to find the Taliban?”
Villagers recalled a massive search to find Bergdahl, but said they forgot about him as the years passed. They said the village has had problems with Taliban fighters and was sympathetic to the Americans.
“I had forgotten about that abducted American,” Manikehl said. “I hope the U.S. can re-arrest the Talibs that they released.”
Bergdahl was released by the Taliban in exchange for five high-ranking Guantanamo Bay detainees in a controversial prisoner swap. Some, including members of Bergdahl’s former unit, accused him of deserting the Army. Members of Congress criticized the deal because President Barack Obama did not give them 30 days’ notice of the deal, as required by law.