The Taliban claimed that 67 “Mujahideen” have graduated from two training camps located in the northwestern Afghan province of Faryab. The group has publicized 12 training facilities throughout the country since late 2014.
Forty of the fighters graduated on March 18 from “a military camp – Intiqam Giran-e-Quran – in the surroundings of Shirin Tagab district” in Faryab, according to the Taliban. The statement was released on Voice of Jihad, the Taliban’s official propaganda website.
“Mujahideen received training about usage of heavy and light weapons, target shooting, information regarding military tolls and explosive materials in the camp,” according to Voice of Jihad.
A photograph of a group of Taliban fighters in uniform pointing their AK-47s down range accompanied the brief statement, however it is unclear if it is a stock photo or from the Faryab camp. In the past, the Taliban has released videos accompanying the announcements of their training camps.
Shirin Tagab district is one of the seven districts contested by the Taliban. In July 2016, RFE/RL reported that at least 35 villages were under Taliban control. In Feb. 2017, the Taliban took control of another village in the district after killing five local policemen.
In a second statement, released on March 17, the Taliban said that “as many as 27 Mujahideen were graduated from Khalid-Bin-Walik military camp on Thursday.” However the title of the statement identified the facility as “Khalid-Bin-Walid,” which appears to be one of 12 feeder camps identified by the Taliban in late 2015.
Faryab province is a known haven for the Taliban. Of the province’s 15 districts, seven are contested by the Taliban and one more is Taliban-controlled, according to data compiled by FDD’s Long War Journal.
The Taliban used these districts to launch an assault on Maimana, the provincial capital. While Afghan forces prevented the fall of Maimana, they failed to eject the Taliban from the surrounding districts.
Jihadist training camps in Afghanistan
The Taliban has publicized at least 12 of its training camps since the end of 2014 (see list below). In late 2015, the Taliban announced that its Khalid bin Walid Camp operated 12 satellite facilities throughout Afghanistan, and had the capacity to “train up to 2000 recruits at a single time.” Additionally, it said the Khalid bin Walid Camp “trains recruits in 8 provinces (Helmand, Kandahar, Ghazni, Ghor, Saripul, Faryab, Farah and Maidan Wardak) and “has around 300 military trainers and scholars.”
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. Coalition forces have also raided Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan suicide training camps in Samagan and Sar-i-Pul.
Training camps promoted by the Taliban since Dec. 2014
Dec. 2014: The Taliban announced the existence of a training camp in Faryab province.
Dec. 2014:The Khalid bin Waleed camp in Kunar province.
June 2015: The Taliban touted its “special forces” training camp; the location was not disclosed.
Aug. 2015: Training Camp Shaheed Ustaz Aasim in the Lions Den, in Paktia province.
Sept. 2015 The Salahadin Ayyubi camp; the location was not disclosed.
July 2016: The Omar bin Khattab training camp in Kunduz.
Oct. 2016: Abdullah bin Mubarak Jihad Training Camp; the location was not disclosed.
Nov. 2015: The Khalid bin Walid Camp; the location was not disclosed. According to the Taliban, it has 12 “branches.”
Nov. 2015: The Abu Dujana Camp, in Sar-i-Pul province. It is one of the 12 branch camps of the Khalid bin Walid Camp.
Jan. 2017: Al Farouq Training Camp; the location was not disclosed.
March 2017: Intiqam Giran-e-Quran in Faryab.
March 2017: Khalid-Bin-Walid, or Khalid-Bin-Walik, in Faryab.