NEW: Republicans say Senate briefing on Bergdahl doesn't stem their skepticism
A video shows the minutes before Bergdahl is swooped away by a Black Hawk chopper
Taliban members shake hands with men from the Black Hawk
Bergdahl's hometown cancels an event planned to celebrate his return
Dressed in all white with a striped shawl across his shoulders, the gaunt American looks up at the Black Hawk chopper circling overhead.
Armed Taliban men stand around him, one with a rocket-propelled grenade launcher ready.
When the chopper lands, the American is led there by two men, one carrying a white flag. He is given a pat-down, loaded on to the helicopter and whisked away.
A new video released by the Taliban showed the final moments of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s five years in captivity, just before he was handed over to the United States.
As debate over the circumstances surrounding Bergdahl’s release showed no signs of slowing Wednesday, the video revealed intriguing clues about Bergdahl, his Taliban captors and his American rescuers.
The narration on the video says the transfer took place in Khost province, in eastern Afghanistan.
“We had a number of tribal elders with us … in order to build trust between us and the other side,” a voice in the video says.
“We told them that we had warned all our Mujahideen fighters in Khost province and especially in Batai area not to attack them.”
The 17-minute video also showed an unusual sight: Taliban members shaking hands with men from the Black Hawk. The Pentagon said Wednesday it has no reason to doubt the video’s authenticity.
“But we are reviewing it,” Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said.
“Regardless, we know the transfer was peaceful and successful, and our focus remains on getting Sgt. Bergdahl the care he needs.”
Mike Baker, a former covert operations officer for the CIA, said there’s a clear purpose behind the video.
“The Taliban doesn’t operate in a bubble. They don’t live in a cave. They understand the importance of social media. They understand the importance of marketing and public relations,” he told CNN’s Brooke Baldwin. “This is a scripted propaganda piece for them. … And so they’re doing this, in a sense, to show their credibility, to show their strength as warriors to their supporters, and to try to use it as a recruiting tool.”
Surrounded by Mujahideen
At one point in the video, Taliban members start chanting, “Long live Mujahideen of Afghanistan, long live Mullah Omar, the leader of Taliban.”
Mujahideen refers to those who carry out jihad.
The narrator’s voice said armed fighters were stationed throughout the transfer area.
“We waited in the area for around 10 minutes before the helicopters arrived, and there were 18 Mujahideen fighters with me in the area,” the narrator said.
Indeed, the video showed armed men perched high and low on nearby hillsides.
“Our arrangement was that once the helicopters are on the ground, three people from the other side would get off the helicopter and three from our side, including the captive, would move toward the helicopter to hand him over.”