The Taliban said 100 “mujahideen” have graduated from its “Khalid bin Walid Camp” and 50 more from its “Abu Dujana Camp.” These two facilities are designed to indoctrinate and train fighters in basic combat techniques, and the Khalid bin Walid Camp “can train up to 2000 recruits at a single time,” according to the Taliban.
The training camps were promoted on Voice of Jihad, the Taliban’s official propaganda outlet. According to the group, the facilities were established and are currently run by the “Commission for Military Camps and Martyrdom Battalions.”
The location of the Khalid bin Walid Camp was not specifically disclosed, however the Taliban said that it “trains recruits in 8 provinces (Helmand, Kandahar, Ghazni, Ghor, Saripul, Faryab, Farah and Maidan Wardak) and “has around 300 military trainers and scholars.” The facility “can train up to 2000 recruits at a single time and trains them in the fields of Shariah, military, technical and intelligence.”
The Abu Dujana Camp is located in Sar-i-Pul province, and is one of “12 branches” of the Khalid bin Walid Camp, according to the Taliban.
According to the Taliban, the fighters at both camps were “given a basic 45 day training course in military, Islamic creed, Hanafi Fiqh [understanding of the Hanafi school of jurisprudence], Seerat (life of the noble Prophet SAW) and intelligence.”
During the military instruction, the fighters are “given training of most used weapons like rifles, machine guns, RPG 7, 75mm and 82mm artillery, mortars, Dshk, KPV and ZPU-2 AA guns as well as other arms and at the same time are given basic information about different explosives, APCs, tanks, aircrafts, lasers, recon planes and other modern gear.”
The statement promoting the two camps was accompanied by a series of photographs showing the Taliban recruits in various formations. The Taliban fighters are operating in the open in broad daylight.
Jihadist training camps in Afghanistan
The Taliban has publicized several training camps in Afghanistan in recent years. In Dec. 2014, the Taliban showcased a training camp in the Jawzjan district of Faryab Province. In Jan. 2015, it highlighted a training camp in Kunar. Last June, the jihadist group advertised a “special forces” training camp somewhere in Afghanistan. Two months later, a training camp in the Zurmat district of Paktia Province was touted online. In Sept. 2016, the Haqqani Network, a powerful subgroup of the Taliban, released a video from its Salahadin Ayyubi camp someplace in eastern Afghanistan. In July 2016, the Taliban promoted the Omar ibn Khattab Training Camp, which is thought to be located in Kunduz province.
In its last feature, in Oct. 2106, the group showcased the Abdullah ibn Mubarak Jihad Training Camp, which is likely run by the Haqqani Network. In the propaganda video, which was produced in multiple languages, the Taliban encouraged Muslims from all countries to wage jihad.
“Thus, we are presenting our honorable viewers with the training activities of some of the mujahideen from one of their training camps with the hope that this will encourage Muslim youth in defending their religion, Muslim lands,” the narrator of the video promoting the Abdullah ibn Mubarak Jihad Training Camp stated.
Other jihadist groups, including al Qaeda, are known to operate camps inside Afghanistan. In 2015, the US raided an al Qaeda camp in Bermal district in Paktika, and two others in the Shorabak district in Kandahar province. The outgoing commander of US forces in Afghanistan, General John Campbell, said that one of the camps in Shorabak was the largest in Afghanistan since the US invaded in 2001. Al Qaeda has also operated camps in Kunar and Nuristan.
Harakat-ul-Mujahideen a Pakistani jihadist group that is closely allied with al Qaeda,“operates terrorist training camps in eastern Afghanistan,” the US government stated in 2014. The Turkistan Islamic Party, the Islamic Jihad Union, and the Imam Bukhari Jamaat, an Uzbek jihadist group that operates in both Syria and Afghanistan, have all claimed to operate camps inside Afghanistan.
Images from the Khalid bin Walid and Abu Dujana training camps