Taliban occupy abandoned US outpost in Kunar

The Taliban have occupied a combat outpost abandoned by US troops in the eastern province of Kunar, and claim they will set up a headquarters there.

In a video taken by Al Jazeera, a heavily armed group of Taliban fighters is seen marching up a road in the Pech River Valley. The fighters do not appear concerned about being targeted by Afghan or US ground or air forces.

The Taliban group is then filmed inside what appears to be a combat outpost; HESCO barriers, sandbags, and other artifacts from ISAF forces are seen in the background.

A commander identified as Mullah Muhibullah claimed the Taliban will establish “a permanent base” there, swore allegiance to Mullah Omar, and said his forces will continue to attack US troops until they “reach the gates of America.”

“We will have a permanent base here and we will maintain control of it,” Muhibullah told Al Jazeera. “As long as our commander, Mullah Omar, is alive and our guide, we will fight for him. The infidels failed to hold this outpost. Our jihad against American troops will continue, and one day we will reach the gates of America.”

Another commander identified as Intiqam said the Taliban have imposed sharia, or Islamic law, in the area, and he twice denied any links to al Qaeda.

“The whole area is secure and sharia [Islamic] law is being applied here and all the people are very happy,” Intiqam said. “We have no links with al Qaeda; we are Taliban fighters under the command of Mullah Omar. We are not associated with al Qaeda.”

But al Qaeda is known to have a strong presence in Kunar province and its forces often fight alongside local and regional Taliban groups against US and Afghan forces. Al Qaeda also maintains bases and training camps in Kunar. And in December, the special operations forces captured Abu Ikhlas al Masri, al Qaeda’s commander in Kunar.

The Taliban made similar propaganda videos in the past after US forces withdrew from combat outposts in Kamdish (or Waygal) in Nuristan province in 2009, and the Korengal Valley in Kunar in 2010.

In one video, also filmed by Al Jazeera, the Taliban were seen occupying one of the abandoned combat outposts in Kamdish in Nuristan. The Taliban displayed weapons, mines, and ammunition left behind by departing US and Afghan forces. In another video, released by the Taliban, Dost Mohammed, the shadow governor for Nuristan, was seen riding on an exercise bike left behind.

Within the past few years, US troops have abandoned several combat outposts in Kunar and Nuristan after major attacks on the remote bases. US Army commanders said that the outposts were closed or turned over to Afghan forces as part of a new counterinsurgency strategy to secure population centers. Some analysts claimed that the insurgencies in these areas were local and driven by the presence of US forces. Their prediction that the insurgency would die out after US forces left the region has since been discredited.

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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28 Comments

  • Soccer says:

    “In another video, released by the Taliban, Dost Mohammed, the shadow governor for Nuristan, was seen riding on an exercise bike left behind.
    Read more: //www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2011/04/taliban_occupy_aband.php#ixzz1JIA04ZY2
    Bill, could you PLEASE provide a link to that video? It sounds so peculiar yet it peeks my interests enough for me to want to see it.
    There are also videos of Dost Muhammad riding on horses to greet his followers in Nuristan province. Judging by the bike video and the horse videos, he’s definitely in Nuristan province and not in Pakistan as I’ve heard some people suggest. He’s definitely good at hiding, I’ll give him that. Nothing is heard from him for a while and then he pops out of nowhere.

  • DL says:

    Wow, that looks like just about the best target for a 2000lb JDAM ever…

  • Justin says:

    So if they make a headquarters there, don’t we now know where exactly it is, and can we now rain bombs on it?

  • gerald says:

    Don’t they realize that we have the EXACT GPS coordinates for that base? This should be interesting.

  • Luca says:

    Bill,
    Only you can explain to us why, oh why, were there no predators or any other armed air assets circling over the Pech during the taking of the video.
    In fact, why there seems to be this huge disconnect between those officers responsible for the withdrawal from eastern COPs and those responsible for squishing QZR and the other AQ linked bad asses?? A pattern is clearly emerging: US moves out of COP’s, and within a couple of weeks we get a taliban propaganda stunt such as this one. It would be nice, at least once, to rain helfires and more on their “parade”…

  • Max says:

    Oh good, now we know where to drop our bombs…

  • Dost Muhammad??!!! says:

    Dost Muhammad is the shadow governor of Nuristan and he was even at the base on an exercise machine!!!
    How can ISAF miss this chance to have killed him!!!???

  • Anon says:

    Wait til a bunch of them Talibs get together at the base and get them with a Hellfire. It shouldn’t be too hard since we already know the coordinates.

  • DickF says:

    What a great aim point for several Mk.84 JDAMs.

  • Greg says:

    What’s that Grid ?
    FIRE FOR EFFECT!!!!!!!!

  • Paul D says:

    Should be easy to bomb!

  • Graham says:

    “As long as our commander, Mullah Omar, is alive and our guide, we will fight for him. The infidels failed to hold this outpost. Our jihad against American troops will continue, and one day we will reach the gates of America.”
    So is he using the term “gates” as a metaphor, or is does he think America actually has gates or something? I figure he’d be that stupid.
    Read more: //www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2011/04/taliban_occupy_aband.php#ixzz1JK7R3Rj7

  • BBMN says:

    I’m sure they have already moved in women and children in the chance we bomb it. They don’t need to control land they need to control minds. Better to show an airstrke that hit civilians than show they ate occupying an abandoned post.

  • Jim says:

    A 2000 JDAM or multiples thereof would be nice but isn’t there anything in our “smart bomb” inventory, the size of say, a BLU-82/Daisy Cutter or even larger that could be precision dropped to make the outpost and maybe the entire hill/mountain disappear? It would be a great for the psychological effect.
    Inquiring minds wanna know…..

  • madashell59 says:

    They are like cockroaches. Turn off the lights and leave and they come scurrying out of all the nooks and cracks.
    Time for the “raid”.

  • Johno says:

    The reasons why the men in the video were not attacked by air strike are the same as the reasons why the base was abandoned to the enemy. Air-stirkes don’t work and they certainly don’t frighten anyone – even in broad daylight the enemy find the threat of air-power ridiculous. If you don’t believe me watch it again.
    When these very same men were shooting and killing Americans the ordnance brought down on them by US servicemen screaming desperately into RTs, with sometimes their last words, was the very best, smartest, quickest, most expensive every devised and delivered by highly skilled pilots who would fly thru walls if they were asked.
    Imported fires whether by air or artillery can have devastating effect in open country, in mountainous terrain and especially at these high altitudes it is a recipe for disaster. Millions of Afghans have been bombed, rocketed & shelled on numerous occasions over the last 30 years. They know how to deal with it and have a laugh when it blows over.
    Even the Wahabis got in a few laughs in this video!
    !
    Very few US servicemen let alone policy makers have been on the receiving end of an air-strike or artillery bombardment and it shows.

  • JRP says:

    Folks, stick a fork in it; this war is over and we lost. Following the very latest news, Pakistan is demanding curtailment of the drone program and advance notice of what’s left of it. So forget about hellfires and all the rest of it. Osama Bin Ladin beat the Soviets, and now he’s beaten us. It is pathetic that political considerations have again won out over military-driven common sense.

  • Jonesy says:

    May that base be the Taliban’s grave!

  • blert says:

    Every time I view clips such as this I can’t help but note that these ‘bases’ were not set up for defense or logistics.
    Further, they are undersized.
    The real reason for the withdrawals is that the original notion of what we’d face was totally off base.
    The ISAF expected that our guys would be hanging with the locals and amplifying their defense.
    Nothing like that ever got rolling. The locals would rather co-operate with the opfor than fight. Such a prospect should have been deemed likely at the outset.
    Additionally, the proximate location of local Afghanis made traditional tac air too risky to use. Even artillery and mortars are too sloppy. Which then left our guys severely under-gunned.
    As one can see by the video, our guys couldn’t wait to get out of the place. It was a sniper’s beaten zone.

  • jayc says:

    “…and one day we will reach the gates of America.”
    Hyperbole at its best. I am surprised Al Jazeera reported this, it looks more like the work of that juvenile Associated Press. Reminds of the time when Muammar Khadafy threatened to conduct “naval maneuvers” in US waters. Yeah, right.

  • James says:

    This just amazes me, how some you are reacting to this. In my opinion, this is nothing but propaganda and a cleverly orchestrated publicity stunt. What a bunch of quitters. If the going gets tough, the tough get going, they don’t just cut and run.
    If you don’t have enough “boots on the ground” to go around (at least for now), you make do with what you’ve got and try to place them strategically for the most impact.
    Why don’t we rain down JDAM’s on them? Maybe because they so cleverly brought along an Al Jazeera reporter (unwitting we can only assume) as a human shield to prevent that.
    That location just may be as strategically meaningless to them as it turned out to be to US.
    It would not surprise me at all if that location has now become abandoned again. Whatever it’s current state, we’ve got it’s GPS coordinates plotted with precision and our guys probably know every nook and cranny of the place.
    Nothing like a fixed target. This could be a decoy or maybe even turn out to be a trap for the Taliban.
    Some of you posters on this board I feel could well be closet-case aq/taliban sympathizers.

  • Jimmy says:

    Isn’t the ISI chief in Washington just now? Seems that the Taliban have already reached the gates of America….

  • JT says:

    Reports seem to be surfacing supporting the idea that UAV (“drone”) strikes have virtually stopped primarily because of the CIA shooting incident.
    There must be more to the story than one guy who was defending himself from thugs waving guns, at least as far as leverage from the Pakistani side is concerned. Else, the approximately weekly hits would still be occurring. This might now be a record lull. If it is not, is close.

  • Scott P. says:

    Okay, maybe I’m blind. All I see in this video are some sand bags. Actually, all the talibs are doing is walking around on trails and going through what looks to me like a trash dump.
    Simply more propaganda. Nothing else. IMO

  • jean says:

    After watching the video several times, I am still not sure which COP is in the clip. Several comments and questions:
    Is this is one the main COPs that sat on the Pech road? That would imply that the route to Nagalam and Chapa Dara is closed. The Pech road allowed commerce to move between Nuristan/Kunar into Asadabad and Jabad; including lumber which the Afghan government taxed. There is a significant ANSF/Afghan government presence in Nagalam, including a district governor and an NGO presence. Does the ring flight still move down the Pech? What a mess !

  • Johno says:

    Yeh these people really are pathetic. As if anyone with half a brain could mistakes Ellis Island for the WTC. I mean duh! it is a good two & half klicks between the two and how would they attack us?How & with what. He obviously doesn’t know we keep a close eye on this sort of thing.
    Just because he forced the US army, navy and airforce to abandon a COP in the face of the enemy doesn’t mean anything.

  • ED says:

    I THINK THIS WAS JUST A SHOOT AND SCOOT OPERATION FOR THE TALIBAN. SHOOT THE PICTURE AND SCOOT OUT BEFORE THEY ARE NOTICED. YOU ARE RIGHT, ALOT OF PICTURES OF THE TRAIL. THEY REALLY DON’T WANT TO SPEND ANY TIME THERE.

  • Anonymous says:

    In response to jean, this was COP Michigan in the Pech. Basically a useless outpost to begin with, and a sniper’s dream for the enemy, surrounded as it was on all sides by high cliffs and hilltops. Completely worthless strategically for ISAF forces. All the Taliban have now is a mound of dirt and some HESCO’s, but if they’re proud of that, so be it. It serves them absolutely no purpose other than the propoganda they spew.

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