June 7, 2014
Was a ransom paid for Bergdahl?
By Thomas Lifson
An unnamed source characterized as “a high-level intelligence official involved in efforts to find and rescue” Sgt. Bergdahl as well Col. Oliver North both allege that a ransom was paid for the release of Bowe Bergdahl. Lachlan Markay of the Free Beacon writes:
A senior intelligence official with intimate knowledge of the years-long effort to locate and rescue Bergdahl told the Washington Free Beacon that the details of that exchange do not add up.
The official, who requested anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the press, speculated that a cash ransom was paid to the Haqqani Network to get the group to free the prisoner.
The Obama administration reportedly considered offering cash for his release as late as December 2013. The State Department has repeatedly refused to say whether the deal that released Bergdahl involved any cash payment.
The ransom plan was reportedly abandoned, but the intelligence official insisted that there is reason to believe that cash changed hands as part of the deal.
“The Haqqanis could give a rat’s ass about prisoners,” the official said, referring to the Haqqani Network, a designated terrorist group in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the five Guantanamo Bay prisoners who were freed in exchange for Bergdahl’s release.
“The people that are holding Bergdahl want[ed] cash and someone paid it to them,” he said.
While most media reports have blurred the distinction between the Haqqani Network, which actually held Bergdahl, and the Taliban, this expert and others emphasize that the two groups are distinct and have different interests. The Haqqanis are not dedicated to Islamist goals so much as to their own wealth and power, and are not particularly interested in obtaining the freedom of Taliban kingpins. Only one of the released captives was associated with the Haqqani Network.
Breitbart reports Oliver North told Newsmax TV:
North said he knew there was at least a $1 million dollar ransom being demanded for Bergdahl some time ago so he estimated the price paid to release the hostage must be close to $5-6 million now.
"Someone paid a ransom," North said. "Whether the Qataries paid it, or some big oil sheik, or somebody used our petrodollars, but there was a ransom paid in cash for each one of them, my guess somewhere in the round numbers of $5 or 6 million to get Bergdahl freed. I know that the offer that was on the table before was close to a million."
Markay points out:
The theory has not been confirmed—though State has yet to deny it either—but the senior intelligence official expressed concern that the United States may have “enriched a terrorist network.”
“We just funded them for the next 10 years is my guess,” he said.
While none of this is confirmed, it raises the possibility that the Taliban war criminals and terrorists were released not because of a demand, but because President Obama wanted to get them out of Gitmo, to hasten its closing.
No wonder Congress was kept in the dark.
Hat tip: Clarice Feldman