The Haqqani Network has released footage of its fighters going though training at a camp situated along the Afghan-Pakistan border. The video provides an interesting and previously unseen look at the Haqqani Network’s training of its recruits.
The footage of Haqqani Network fighters being trained was included in an approximately 69-minute-long video commemorating the team that assaulted the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul on June 28, 2011. Afghan intelligence traced the attack via an intercepted phone conversation to Badruddin Haqqani, an operational commander in the Haqqani Network who also sits on the Taliban’s Miramshah Shura and is a son of Jalaluddin Haqqani, the patriarch of the al Qaeda-linked network. During the attack, Badruddin was in communication with the suicide assault team and was directing the attack from Pakistan.
The video was released by Manba al-Jihad, “a media unit of the Haqqani Network within the Afghan Taliban,” according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which obtained a copy of the video. The video was released on jihadist Internet forums on Nov. 11 and was also published in segments on a Taliban-linked YouTube site and linked at the Taliban’s website, Voice of Jihad. YouTube has since removed some of the segments.
“The jihadi studio of Manba’ al-Jihad, in the Audio and Video Department of the Media Committee of the Islamic Emirate, published a video titled, ‘The Army of Badr, 1’, which regards the martyrdom-seeking operation at the special conference convened in the Continental Hotel in the city of Kabul,” according to a statement that accompanied the release of the video on a jihadist web forum. “The video published hot and attractive shots of the training, wills, and the operations of the mujahideen who participated in this martyrdom-seeking operation.”
Although the location of the Haqqani Network camp was not disclosed, a US intelligence official told The Long War Journal that it is located in Pakistan’s Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan, and not in Afghanistan. The camp shown in the video is in a mountainous area. The Haqqani Network is known to operate training camps on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistan border.
In the video, a platoon-sized group of about 40 fighters is seen standing in formation. The men are wearing camouflage uniforms, dark green masks, and helmets. The white flag of the Taliban is flying in several different scenes.
The video shows Haqqani Network fighters navigating a series of obstacles while instructors fire AK-47 rounds into the ground. The trainees also appear low-crawling, climbing a makeshift ladder, jumping off of a ramp, and jumping over a burning pit.
Instructors are drilling the fighters on dismounted operations from a pickup truck and a motorcycle, and on an ambush on a column. The fighters are also given a briefing on various US strike aircraft and attack helicopters, and instruction on firing anti-aircraft machine-guns.
The video documents ways in which the instructors put the Haqqani Network fighters through weapons training. The fighters are shown firing pistols and AK-47 assault rifles from various positions. They are seen firing rocket-propelled grenades, a recoilless rifle, a belt-fed machinegun, and mortars, and the video also shows them throwing hand grenades at a makeshift range. In addition, they practice carrying wounded fighters.
Interestingly, the video emerges at about the same time as 10,000 copies of a 144-page field manual written by the Haqqani Network have been distributed in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The manual is “printed on high-quality paper, with black-and-white photos and solidly bound, the manual for guerrillas and terrorists opens with directions for how to set up a jihadi cell, how to obtain financing, how to recruit members, and how to train them,” according to Newsweek. “It suggests that training camps be situated far from villages, either in high mountains or the jungle, and that they be designed with multiple, hidden access routes.”
The manual, which is published by “Khalifa Sirajuddin Haqqani,” the operational commander of the Haqqani Network, justifies the use of suicide bombers, praises al Qaeda, and offers tips on how to wage jihad in Western nations.
“Blend in, shave, wear Western dress, be patient,” and leave behind material that might lead authorities to suspect you are a jihadist, the manual states, according to Newsweek. “You should attack the enemy’s weaker points, such as economic targets like the World Trade Center and diplomatic targets like the U.S. embassies in Africa.”
The manual also provides information on a variety of firearms and explosives, and gives advice on the use of such weapons.
The Haqqani Network, which operates in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, is linked to both al Qaeda and the Pakistani military and Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate. The Haqqani Network supports and shelters a constellation of regional and international terror group groups in North Waziristan, and fights NATO and Afghan forces across the border [for more information on the Haqqani Network, see LWJ report, US adds senior Haqqani Network leader to terrorist list].
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.