By Justin Sink
A new, 17-minute video released Wednesday by the Taliban purportedly shows the controversial transfer of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl to U.S. control.
"Don't come back to Afghanistan,” one Taliban fighter tells Bergdahl in Pashto, according to The Wall Street Journal. “Next time we catch you, you won't leave here alive."
When the American chopper lands, Taliban militants armed with assault rifles and a grenade launcher fan out across the nearby hills. Three American special forces service members dressed casually approach the pickup truck and offer a handshake to two members of the Taliban, one of whom is holding a white flag.
After a brief conversation, they lightly frisk Bergdahl and return to the helicopter. The helicopter then lifts off and departs.
"Long live the holy warriors of Afghanistan!" the fighters chant.
Administration officials said they were aware of the video.
"We have no reason to doubt the video's authenticity, but we are reviewing it," said Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby. "Regardless, we know the transfer was peaceful and successful, and our focus remains on getting Sgt. Bergdahl the care he needs."
Bergdahl was freed in exchange for five Taliban militants being held at the Guantánamo Bay prison, who have been released into the care of the Qatar government.
The White House has been criticized for the swap, with critics charging that the militants released were dangerous terrorists who will pose a risk to U.S. security once freed. Lawmakers have also complained that the White House did not follow a law requiring notification 30 days before the transfer of any Gitmo prisoners. And fellow soldiers who served with Bergdahl have said he was captured after he deserted his camp, disillusioned with the war in Afghanistan.
On Tuesday, President Obama defended the prisoner swap despite the criticism during a press conference in Poland.
"Regardless of the circumstances, we still get an American soldier back if he's held in captivity,” Obama said. “Period. Full stop."