KABUL, Afghanistan — The Taliban released a video Friday of an American soldier captured in Afghanistan, showing him apparently healthy but spouting criticism about the U.S. military operation.
In Idaho, Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl's family pleaded on Christmas Day for his release and urged him to "stay strong."
Bergdahl disappeared June 30 while based in eastern Afghanistan and is the only known American serviceman in captivity. The Taliban claimed his capture in a video released in mid July that showed the young Idaho soldier appearing downcast and frightened. He hadn't been heard from until Friday's video, in which he looks well and speaks clearly.
Although the video was released Friday, it was unclear when it was made, and Col. Wayne Shanks, a NATO spokesman, said it was not evidence that Bergdahl is still alive.
The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force confirmed hours later that the man in the video was Bergdahl but denounced its timing and content.
"This is a horrible act which exploits a young soldier, who was clearly compelled to read a prepared statement," said a statement from U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Gregory Smith, ISAF's spokesman. "To release this video on Christmas Day is an affront to the deeply concerned family and friends of Bowe Bergdahl, demonstrating contempt for religious traditions and the teachings of Islam."
Lt. Col. Tim Marsano of the Idaho National Guard issued a statement Friday from the family of Bergdahl, who live outside Hailey, Idaho. In their statement, the family urged the captors "to let our only son come home."
And to their son, the family said, "We love you and we believe in you. Stay strong."
In the video, Bergdahl is shown seated, facing the camera, wearing sunglasses and what appears to be a U.S. military helmet and uniform. On one side of the image, it says: "An American soldier imprisoned by the mujahedeen of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan."
He identifies himself as Bergdahl, born in Sun Valley, Idaho, and gives his rank, birth date, blood type, his unit and mother's maiden name before beginning a lengthy verbal attack on the U.S. conduct of the war in Afghanistan and its relations with Muslims.
In the video, Bergdahl says, "It's our arrogance and, and our stupidity that has made us so blind that we simply refuse to see the blunders and mistakes that we continue to make over and over again.
"This is just going to be the next Vietnam unless the American people stand up and stop all this nonsense," he said.
A statement read by a Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, appears at the end of the video and renews demands for a "limited number of prisoners" to be exchanged for Bergdahl.