Van Dyk says there are signals being sent by Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl's captors in Afghanistan in the 28 minute video, which was released on various Web sites over the weekend — signals which give him reason to "hope" the 23-year-old may well survive his ordeal.
CBS Early Show co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez asked Van Dyk about the general appearance of the captive Army private, who appears in the video in a non-descript but clean Afghan robe, well-fed and generally unharmed.
"They're sending a message to the United States and its allies, and equally they're sending a message to the Afghan public: We can treat soldiers — we can treat prisoners better than the Americans are treating us," said Van Dyk, citing myriad reports of prisoner abuse in U.S.-run prisons for terror suspects in Afghanistan and Iraq.
"What they are saying to the Afghan public is that we can do a better job — Do not be afraid of us."
"He's wearing nice clothes. He's being fed. He has a cup of tea there. This is ancient tribal code that predates Islam," explains Van Dyk, who says local tradition dictates, "We will protect to the death a guest in our home — He is in someone's home right now."
Click below to see Van Dyk on The Early Show:
The author said it's important to make a distinction between the Taliban militants holding Pfc. Bergdahl and al Qaeda militants — the ones who kidnapped and then beheaded American journalist Daniel Pearl in neighboring Pakistan, for instance.
"The Taliban and al Qaeda are two different things," he said.
Van Dyk said there have been at least eight kidnappings by Taliban militants along the border in recent years, some made public, others kept secret, and "most of the hostages have been released."