By Translated by Hashim Shukoor McClatchy Foreign StaffJune 5, 2014
This is a transcript of the Pashto narration of a video released June 4, 2014, by the Taliban showing the release to American special forces of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.
[CREDITS] This video is presented by the cultural department of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Broadcasting this video with instrumental music is not permitted.
ANNOUNCER: Under the instructions of the Afghan leadership and with the initiative of the Islamic Emirate’s delegation in Qatar, negotiations have been going on for the past few months with officials of the United States of America on the exchange of prisoners detained by both sides for the last several years.
Due to those negotiations, on May 31, 2014, Bowe Berghdal, a U.S. soldier who was arrested a few years ago in Paktika province, was handed over to American soldiers during a special ceremony in the Bati area of Alisher district in Khost province.
On the same day, five heroic holy fighters of Islamic Emirate were released after having spent nearly 13 years in the U.S. prison at Guantanamo and reunited with the Islamic Emirate’s representatives in Qatar. They were: Mullah Fazl Mazloom, the army chief of staff in the Islamic Emirate’s government, Mullah Noorullah Noori, in charge of the northern regions of Afghanistan and governor of Balkh province, Mullah Khirullah Khairkhwa, interior minister and later governor of Herat province who was in charge of the southwestern region, Mullah Abdul Haq Wasiq, deputy of the National Directorate, and Mullah Mohammad Nabi Omari, who was a border brigade commander.
The release of the five heroes was received as good news throughout the world and brought tears of joy to the eyes of most Muslims.
Mullah Mohammad Omar Mujahid, the supreme leader of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, sent a message of congratulations: “Thanks to Allah thanks to Allah, that because of the sacrifices of the mujahideen and best efforts of the our political office in Qatar, five senior officials of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan were released safely from Guantanamo with the help of God. This great victory requires a prayer of thanksgiving to God that with the sacrifice of our fighting nation that our holy fighters were rescued from the claws of the enemy.”
“I want to thank the fighters, the Islamic Emirate’s leadership council, the men who arrested Bowe Berghdal, the men who guarded him, and everyone who contributed in this great work. I pray to God for their further success.”
Dear viewers: in this documentary you will see the handing over of the U.S. soldier and hear the commentary of a holy warrior who witnessed the event.
WITNESS: First of all, congratulations to all fighters and leaders of the Islamic Emirate. I was present in this process. We arrived at the Bati area at 4 p.m. We’d been asked where we were willing to come for the meeting. We’d also brought few tribal elders so that if they (Americans) did not trust us, we could send these elders to them. These tribal elders were there to get the trust of other side. We said that we have units near the Bati district military base and we could be there within a half an hour.
They asked where we could be and we said wherever you want _ the base or someplace else, it’s all the same. The mujahedeen control the Bati area. We gave them security guarantees. They said, “We’ll come by helicopters to the Bati area, just tell us where.” We said, “We’ll come to the base. They said no, they said “Come to the the area near the house of Naim Kuchai, a famous tribal elder, 500 meters from his house.”
[Video shows fighters chanting: “God is great! Long live Afghanistan! Long live Mullah Omar!”]
WITNESS: They said, “We’ll come by helicopter.” Big airplanes were in the air also. When we arrived to the site there were three helicopters _ two were in the air and one landed about 14-15 meters away.
The detained soldier and two of our friends were with me. They said, when you arrive at the site three persons from your vehicle should come toward us. One should be the detained soldier and two others. They said, three persons from our side would get of the helicopter. When we arrived to the site we waited 10 minutes. The helicopter approached and another bigger plane flew overhead. The helicopter landed. Eighteen armed fighters were with us in the area, and they were on the top of the hill.
We had told them that we would have armed fighters with us, and they’d said that was ok. They told us to carry a green flag, but we said we don’t have a green flag, we’ll have a white flag. I carried the white flag. I thought that they (Americans) would sit with us and we would talk, but they were in such a big hurry that they didn’t event greet us properly. We shook hands with two and the third one presented his left hand. They were in such a rush they told us not to come any closer. There were two persons, and an interpreter named Sher Khan, and we handed over their man.
They were in such a big hurry, they did not hesitate, but before they departed they asked me to tell them if his health was not good. I replied that he is in good health. They asked about his shaved head and face. I said yes, he does not have hair on his face and head.
Before he was scared, but when he saw his U.S. helicopters, he wanted to run from excitement. He became restless. I told him that they are coming down, and the helicopter landed. I wanted to speak with them via the interpreter and deliver some messages to them, but as I said they were in too much of a hurry and after the handshake, when they saw armed mujahideen with the weapons in the area, they became in an even bigger hurry. They did not even let the soldier to have a good-bye handshake with us. They did a strange thing. It was a hard scene for them. Our leaders had offered assurances, but still we could not trust the enemy.
The armed fighters were with us only for self-protection. We were all armed. When we entered there we had told ourselves that either we would all be killed or we would have brought an end to the episode in accordance with our orders. But then we heard about the released leaders, thanks be to God.
[Taliban song of praise continues as video shows the five former detainees being greeted by other Taliban officials.]
Hashim Shukoor is a McClatchy special correspondent.