Taliban overruns outpost in eastern Afghanistan

As the Taliban mounts offensives in the northern province of Kunduz and the southern province of Helmand, it has also been consolidating its grip on areas in eastern Afghanistan. A video from Paktika province, a bastion of the Haqqani Network, shows the Taliban in control of a military outpost along the Pakistani border.

The Taliban released a video entitled “Liberation of Ghwasta” that shows scores of its fighters attacking and then walking inside a US-built outpost in the Waza Khwa district in Paktika. The footage was released on Voice of Jihad, the jihadist group’s official propaganda website, on Sept. 21. The exact date of the attack was not given, but the accompanying statement said that it occurred “a few weeks earlier.”

According to the Taliban, the Ghwasta area of the district “was cleared from the hireling troops after dozens were killed and wounded, many vehicles destroyed and a sizable amount of arms and ammunition seized.”

The video does show the jihadists in possession of captured vehicles, including a US-made Humvee, and a large quantity of weapons, rockets, mortars, ammunition, and other supplies (screen shots from the video are below). The Taliban does not show the bodies of Afghan soldiers or policemen who were purportedly killed in the battle.

Also included in the footage is an interview with Mawlawi Muhammad Iqbal, AKA Takal, the “deputy provincial governor,” or deputy shadow governor, for Paktika. Iqbal is on the scene with the Taliban in Waza Khwa district.

The Taliban’s shadow governor for the province is Bilal Fateh, who swore allegiance to Mullah Mohammad Mansour, the new emir, in early August. The Taliban previously identified the deputy shadow governor of Paktika as “Abdullah” and “Hamad.” In a December 2013 interview, Abdullah claimed that the districts of Dila, Nika, and “Charbaran,” which may be a reference to Gomal district (the Charbaran Valley is in Gomal), are under the jihadist group’s control.

The exact security status of Paktika is unclear. The Afghan government has claimed that the Taliban only controls four of the more than 400 districts in the entire country, but the Taliban are known to control far more than that number. In Paktika, the districts of Bermal, Dila, Nika, Urgun, Yahya Khel, Waza Khwa, Yusuf Khel, and Ziruk are thought to be heavily contested or under Taliban control. The Afghan government often only maintains its writ in the district centers but not in the rural areas of the country.

The Waza Khwa district borders Pakistan’s Baluchistan province, where the Afghan Taliban wields considerable influence. The cities of Zhob and Qila Saifullah, where the jihadist group runs madrassas, recruiting centers, training camps, and command centers, are within 50 miles of the district.

Paktika province is also a stronghold of the Haqqani Network, a powerful subgroup that wields considerable influence within the Taliban. Jalaluddin Haqqani, the group’s founder, is a member of the Taliban’s Quetta Shura, while Sirajuddin Haqqani is one of Mansour’s two deputy emirs.

The Haqqanis maintain close ties with al Qaeda and shelter the global jihadist group’s top leaders in Paktika to this day. At the end of July 2015, the US killed Abu Khalil al Sudani, a senior al Qaeda leader who took direction from Ayman al Zawahiri, in an airstrike in Paktika’s Bermal district. Sudani had a hand in al Qaeda’s external operations network, which plots attacks against the US and the West. On Sept. 14, Afghan intelligence said that it killed an al Qaeda commander known as as Khuram in the Gomal district.

Images from the Taliban video from Waza Khwa district in Paktika

Taliban Paktika

Taliban Paktika

Taliban Paktika

Taliban Paktika

Taliban Paktika

Taliban Paktika

Taliban Paktika

Taliban Paktika

Taliban Paktika

Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 8.47.29 AM

Taliban Paktika

Taliban Paktika

Taliban Paktika

Taliban Paktika

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of The Long War Journal.

Tags: , ,

9 Comments

  • paul says:

    Anywhere close to Pakistan aka Mordor(see Lord of Rings) is going to be full of jihadis.

  • Mike Smith says:

    I’ve been to Waza Khwa. It is the most desolate, uninhabitable patch of barren dirt and rock I’ve ever seen. The whole district looks exactly like what you see in those photos. That mud fort was by far the biggest building in the district, and the entire population of the district was under 5,000 people when I was there. The district “mosque” was a square of rocks on the ground — no walls. It has no strategic value whatever beyond being a path from Pakistan to somewhere else. Districts like Waza Khwa aren’t worth fighting for at this stage of the conflict.

    • James says:

      @Mike

      Thank you for your service Mike and also for your input on this matter. You’d think these thugs would be like sitting ducks for any kind of air strike capability. Maybe we just need to get somebody in the WH that’s got some real kahunas.

  • Arjuna says:

    Hmmmm…. that’s a doozie. Humvees make great VBIEDs.
    “The Afghan government has claimed that the Taliban only controls four of the more than 400 districts in the entire country, but the Taliban are known to control far more than that number.”
    We supposedly defeated the Taliban in 2003. Seems like we lost yet another war if they are now controlling districts and hitting Kabul with regularity. Poor Afghans, poor Afghanistan.
    So the Pakistanis lie about everything all the time, the Afghans lie about a lot a lot of the time and we lie to ourselves and others when the mood strikes us or a general wants a promotion. Great way to manage conflicts. Garbage in, garbage out.

  • not a wmd says:

    Can’t the post report it ‘s under attack to the Afghan Army, and can’t someone there let the US(special forces, CIA) know, and can’t we watch (drones,satelites), and when they show up for their pictures and parade drop something on them? Or was this an inside job?

    • Arjuna says:

      Sorry, that sounds too much like a winning strategy…. and gosh knows we can’t have that. Every gathering of Talibs should invite a JDAM, especially Friday prayers!

  • mike merlo says:

    these guys will be back in Pakistan once the freezing cold & snows set in. Afghanistan Security Forces strategy of ‘Give & Take’ will continue to bear fruit as long as the US & others continue to provide responsible & meaningful support

  • irebukeu says:

    I think it is safe to assume the American taxpayer will be paying the principal and interest on those weapons, most of which we can assume were purchased (correction FINANCED) with American dollars, for generations to come.

    I have often seen the math of what a Starbucks latte grande mocha whatever is when financed over 20 years. All done in an effort to not get college kids to finance their coffee. The option is to pay cash and be done with it.
    I wonder how much a PKM machine gun, bought at high prices to start with, costs when the total amount is financed over 100 years at variable rates.
    Since the nation has an unbalanced budget but still throws a trillion dollars a year at foreign policy and military bases shouldn’t we know these numbers as well?
    Oh, And the buying never stops and likewise didn’t just start. American taxpayers are still paying the interest on the weapons that were shipped off to Pakistan in 79-92 under the anti-soviet policies of Jimmy Carter beefed up a bit by Ronald ‘I can spend more than you’ Reagan.
    Let’s start paying down the debt and rebuilding our economy. All that money spent in the pictures was a waste.
    The soviets should have been given that rat hole to play in. Perhaps they would have come away with more than 16,000 KIA and the worst heroin use problem on the planet. All done to them with the Lee enfield and the 1856 jezail.
    Too many times on the LWJ and other sites does some jihadis biography start with ‘He fought against the Soviets in the 80’s with…’ and then goes on to list more wretched survivors from that conflict. We would have been better off with a marxist Afghanistan forcing women’s rights on the tribes or a long occupation by the Soviets until their dying day. Instead we told the mujahideen they were freedom fighters, that god was on their side and that they would win. We spent lots of money to let them know god was on their side and that they would win.
    Who knew they would believe it?

  • Mr T says:

    Well they “give” a lot of vehicles, weapons, and equipment, but don’t do much “taking”. They also won’t be getting much help from the locals if they just abandon them when the Taliban comes. The locals can’t leave and they have to answer to the Taliban about their activities.

Iraq

Islamic state

Syria

Aqap

Al shabaab

Boko Haram

Isis