Time: Taliban Says 'Definitely' Inspired to Kidnap More After Bergdahl Swap
Time magazine has published a rare interview with some of the Taliban leaders who were involved in negotiating the prisoner swap in which U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was released in exchange for five Taliban leaders held at Guantanamo Bay. One of the commanders said the trade, which has led to harsh criticism of the Obama administration, will "definitely" inspire more kidnappings.
Here's that portion of the article, written by Time Middle East Bureau Chief Aryn Baker, who talked to Gretchen Carlson this afternoon via Skype.
There was some disgruntlement among Taliban ranks over the terms, admits the Kandahar commander. Some members wanted a ransom payment for Bergdahl, in addition to the release of the Guantanamo detainees.
But the leadership prevailed. “We told them that these five men are more important than millions of dollars to us,” he says.
He was more tolerant of complaints from Taliban foot soldiers that pointed out that for all the celebrations surrounding the officials’ release, there was no reward or recognition for the Taliban fighters who captured Bergdahl in 2009. But that’s not likely to get in the way of future attempts to kidnap American soldiers, across all ranks.
Asked whether the Taliban would be inspired by the exchange to kidnap others, he laughed. “Definitely,” he says.
“It’s better to kidnap one person like Bergdahl than kidnapping hundreds of useless people. It has encouraged our people. Now everybody will work hard to capture such an important bird.”
Baker, speaking from Beirut, said the interview was conducted by a colleague in Peshawar, Pakistan, who speaks Pashto. She said she fed him the questions that would be asked.
Baker does not necessarily agree with the notion that U.S. soldiers are now in more danger than they were before the exchange was made.
"It's not like the Taliban has just discovered the idea of kidnapping a soldier as a good way to get what they want," she said. Her report also stated that Bergdahl's captors brought in a tailor to make him the white tunic and trousers that he was seen wearing on a video of the handover that came out yesterday.
The clothes are seen as a show of respect in the Afghan culture.
Baker said this was a way for the Taliban to portray their treatment of Bergdahl as good, compared to treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay.
"They're saying, 'Look we treat our detainees better than you did. You Americans, with your orange jumpsuits," said Baker, prompting Carlson to push back against the Taliban commanders' comments in the article as "total propaganda."
She asked how she and others at Time made the decision to print the comments.
Baker said it's simply "interesting news," believing many people want to know some details about Bergdahl's time in captivity.
Later in the show, Gretchen got some reaction to the article from Guy Benson, political editor of TownHall.com.