Chechens spotted in Taliban’s Nuristan tape

Informed observers have pointed out a few other interesting items from the Taliban’s recently released videotape that showed a “white Taliban” fighter who is very likely a young Nuristani. In the video, you can see Chechens and what appear to be Arab and Pakistani fighters intermixed with the Taliban [LWJ noted from day one that the Shadow Army was involved in this attack]. Several Taliban commanders are also seen on the video. The following is from an email from a military officer who recently served in Kamdesh, concerning the Chechen factor:

As far as Chechens, its not rare for the Taliban to mass foreign fighters on high level attacks such as the attack on Keating. You can usually tell when they are in the area because accuracy of weapon systems goes up due to their extensive training and combat experience. You can also note almost all of them have a “special” weapon other then the AK-47 and wear a head band, while I have never seen a Nuristani fighter wear a head band… Specifically what got me was the grenade launcher on the AK-47. These are rarely used by Nuristanis due to the extreme lack of ammunition availability. Their kits also seem of higher quality where most of the Nuristani fighters use their pockets or the common green AK-47 front vest.

Some select images from the tape are below; the full video is at the end.

7:36-7:42 Four Chechens with headbands are walking through the column. They can be seen again at 7:57.


8:29 Mauluvi Inayatullah giving a sermon to the “mujahideen.”


9:10 At the far right, the fighter with shirt sleeves rolled up (the bodybuilder type) appears to be a Chechen as well. There also appear to be Arabs and Pakistanis throughout this group, too.


19:26 A Chechen firing an RPG.


36:00 and 38:13 The shadow district governor of Kamdesh, Maulvi Abdul Zahed. His face (right side) is bandaged, wounded from the fighting at FOB Keating.



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

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  • Graham says:

    Analyzing that battle, it would seem as though the Taliban/Foreign Fighter’s advantage was high ground, and apparent element of surprise. The soldiers at the bottom seemed to be caught off guard, and were running around without firearms. On the other hand, as much as the Taliban seem to like pointing out the rocket explosions with those red arrows, they don’t seem to be hitting anything other then open areas. If I recall correctly, the Taliban were driven away by helicopters gunships.
    Bill, I was curious about where I can find more about the events that transpired that day in Nuristan, and also what kind of large rocket launcher those insurgents seem to be using (not the RPGs). Lastly, I was wondering if there’s anyone tracking how many different nationalities/ethnicities there are of foreign fighters in Afghanistan.
    Thank you! 🙂

  • Gaz says:

    A lot of people seem to mention Chechens could really be referring to a large number of nationalities from Russia’s North Caucasus who have different languages and cultured but a similar ‘white’ appearance (ironically they are considered ‘black’ in Russia). Balkirs, Karachays, Karbadins, Circassians, Ingush, Avars, Laz etc. These peoples use Russian as a lingua Franca and so are often mistaken for Chechens. There are also millions of Russian Tatars who are Muslim and whose appearance varies from European to Turkish to Asian.

  • Render says:

    107mm Type 63 single tube.

  • Mark says:

    Hmmm. Agreed these are probably foreign fighters, however I do not believe that anybody can accurately say these are “Chechens”. Just because they are wearing a headband, which a Nuristani fighter doesn’t wear”, doesn’t make them “Chechen”. Heck, there are Palestinian groups who were headbands. I think the best analysis would be that they are foreign fighters. The analysis of the weapons could play into it, however if you check out a Frontline documentary called “Behind Taliban Lines”, which is actually following a HIG group, you can see what appear to be somewhat new AK-47s with the group. So, the weapons analysis cannot be used as a definitive piece of analysis. I think the most interesting bit of information regarding these guys are the American ACU pants they are wearing.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    I’d recommend going to Kavkaz Center and watch videos of Chechen (or Caucasus if that is more comforting) fighters. Their look is very distinctive. If you watch enough video, you begin to know what you are looking at. The third picture posted in particular, the guys with the shaved head and beard, that is a distinctively Chechen look. Add that to his weapon, his uniform (Chechens prefer cammo), and his kit, and you’ll have little doubt this is a Chechen fighter. Unless you believe it is an Afghan, or Pakistani, or Arba who is mimicking a Chechen.

  • Render says:

    Graham: That was a Type 63 107mm rocket launcher, single tube version.
    Also seen was a single 82mm mortar. a pair of SPG-9 recoilless rifles, as many as three ZSU-1 14.5mm AA guns and one DsHK 12.7mm AA gun.

  • T Ruth says:

    Whatever, the sad part is that the US and Russia have more in common than is being exploited. The same holds true of India and, at another level, even China.
    As an aside that guy ‘Maulvi’ Inayatullah is the most savage looking creature in this movie. He could be so gainfully employed in a Hollywood horror picture, no makeup would be needed.

  • T Ruth says:

    Render, my pal, interesting what you identify. For those of us less educated in these matters, what does it say about the origin of these weapons?
    Thank you.

  • Render says:

    T: Beyond the facts that almost all of the heavy crew served weapons I mentioned looked fairly new or well stored and none came from Indian or western sources, not much. Only the mortar and its ammo looked like the typical Taliban storage procedures.
    All are fairly common for the region and all are made and/or used by dozens of nations. The single tube Type 63 launcher is made by at least four nations that I know of, (China, Pakistan, Iran, and Sudan), and used by probably more that I don’t know about.
    The heavy AAA machine guns (ZPU-1 not ZSU my typo) are perhaps the most troubling thing about the heavy weapons they used. They can put a crimp in close air support out to 8000 meters, especially for helicopters, and flares don’t work on them. The mounts appeared standard looking, but missing the usual wheels.


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