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Militants threaten captive Hailey soldier's life

From the COLLECTION: 10 years of Bowe Bergdahl Stories series
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The life of a captured U.S. soldier from Hailey was threatened late last week when militants reportedly called for the release of a Pakistani woman convicted of attacking American troops.

Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl, the only known American serviceman in captivity, was based in eastern Afghanistan when he disappeared June 30, 2009. The Taliban claimed responsibility when released a video of him two weeks later, but little has been heard from him since. A video released Christmas Day featured Bergdahl healthy and criticizing U.S. military operations in the country.

Now, it appears the Taliban want to use Bergdahl as a bargaining chip.

According to the military newspaper Stars and Stripes, the Taliban claims it will execute Bergdahl unless the U.S. releases Pakistani scientist Aafia Siddiqui, who was convicted of attempted murder by a federal jury in New York on Wednesday. Siddiqui in July 2008 fired on U.S. military officers during an escape attempt while in custody at an Afghan police station.

The paper quoted reports from Peshawar by PakTribune and Karachi News. A militant commander interviewed by PakTribune reportedly claimed to have been involved in Bergdahl’s abduction and said the soldier had admitted to participating in several raids in Afghanistan.

“Since he has confessed to all charges against him, our Islamic court had announced death sentence for him,” PakTribune quoted the leader as saying.

No information was immediately available on Sunday regarding how seriously U.S. officials are taking the threat or what sort of response they might have.

Lt. Col. Tim Marsano with the Idaho Army National Guard, the spokesman in the past for Bergdahl’s family, said he relayed news of the “disturbing” threat to family members on Friday.

“Whether or not it’s accurate, certainly words like this are of great concern to the family and also to those of us in the Wood River Valley who have been watching and waiting and hoping for the best,” Marsano said.

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