The Taliban were just as confused by Bowe Bergdahl as the Afghan villagers who first encountered him after he allegedly wandered off his base, two former commanders say. Fighters rushed to capture Bergdahl after villagers informed them of his presence, and he was found walking alone, acting strangely, and cursing his fellow Americans, one commander tells NBC. He said "he wasn’t happy with his countrymen, but he didn’t intend to convert to Islam" or become a jihadi, the commander says. Both say that they at first believed it was some kind of trick, and they wondered how and why he had left the base alone—which he may have done more than once. They say he described his departure as a "personal issue."
A commander who left the Taliban in 2010 says that Bergdahl didn't convert to Islam. "Think he had deserted his army with a mission and wanted to accept Islam, but our people didn’t trust him," he says. "That shattered his belief." Taliban sources say Bergdahl was taken to a "safe location" after his capture, and was later moved around sites in Pakistan. A commander still with the Taliban, meanwhile, says the exchange of Bergdahl for five Taliban leaders gives the movement legitimacy and has boosted morale among the hundreds of fighters under his command. The prisoner exchange "shows we are able to deal directly with the Americans and also successfully," he tells Reuters. (Read more Bowe Bergdahl stories.)