Taliban release video of Haqqani Network suicide assault on FOB Salerno

The Taliban released a videotape produced by the Haqqani Network, an al Qaeda-linked subgroup, that documented the June 1 suicide assault on Forward Operating Base Salerno in Khost province, Afghanistan.

The video was released by Manba al Jihad, “a media unit of the Haqqani Network within the Afghan Taliban,” and was published on Voice of Jihad, the Taliban’s official website, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which translated the video. The full video was nearly 69 minutes long. A 10-minute segment of the video was published on the Liveleak site by a known Internet jihadist sympathizer.

FOB Salerno is the largest base in southeastern Afghanistan. It is highly fortified, and hosts extensive surveillance assets and a US rotary wing task force. The attack on FOB Salerno resulted in the deaths of seven civilian contractors and one US soldier inside the base; scores more soldiers were said to have been wounded in the attack. The Haqqani Network fighters were able to penetrate about 50 to 60 meters before being gunned down during a firefight. The base also suffered heavy damage; photos of the aftermath show the caved-in roof of the FOB’s large dining facility and the wreckage of the demolished post exchange. An RC-East spokesman told The Long War Journal that the damage to the facilities resulted from the large blast wave that followed the initial car bomb [see LWJ report, New details emerge about complex attack on FOB Salerno].

The shorter video summary of the assault that was released on Liveleak shows the Haqqani Network fighters preparing for the assault, and the suicide bomber just before he left to attack the US base. The heavily-armed fighters, who are dressed in US Army digital camouflage uniforms and sneakers, are seen entering a white minivan.

The suicide bomber is seen laughing and smiling as he stands by a flatbed truck that is packed with explosives. He then poses with a bouquet of flowers in the cab of the truck and delivers a message before driving off to strike Salerno. In a previous statement on the attack, the Taliban identified the suicide bomber as Mawlawi Sahib Shamsullah. He was “a resident of Paktia” who “sacrificed his luxurious life in Khaleej [the Persian Gulf], a thriving business, bounties of the world and the love of his 4 children for Allah.” Shamsullah was chosen because he “was familiar with the surrounding area.”

The footage cuts to a long shot of the truck driving toward the perimeter of FOB Salerno. The suicide bomber detonates at the edge of the base, next to a row of HESCO barriers. The huge explosion sends dust and debris high into the air, and subsequent footage shows a massive shock wave. Haqqani Network fighters, who are filming from three different angles around the valley containing the base, are heard shouting “Allahu Akbar,” or “Allah is greatest,” as the bomb detonates.

The Taliban previously stated that more than 10 tons of explosives and other bomb-making material was used in the truck bomb. “According to the Afghan Taliban’s communiqués about the raid, the explosives-laden vehicle was packed with 8 tons of potassium chloride, 2 tons of TNT, 20 bundles of detonation cord, and several anti-tank mines,” SITE reported.

The footage then shows the white minivan packed with the assault team drive up to the perimeter of the base (it is unclear whether this happened after the explosion or simultaneously with the suicide truck bombing). The minivan stops, the Haqqani fighters dressed in the US Army uniforms exit, and then calmly walk onto the base through a breach in the wall.

The sound of gunfire is heard as the white minivan, now empty, begins to emit black smoke. In a previous statement on the attack, the Taliban claimed that the assault team torched the truck after exiting. Civilians are seen in the foreground running away from the attack.

Various camera angles show smoke over the base, accompanied by the sound of sirens and an enormous small arms engagement. US helicopters are seen circling overhead as the firefight rages.

At the end of the shorter video, the 10 members of the assault team are shown outside the van, holding their weapons and a white flag of the Taliban, just prior to the assault. The Taliban previously identified the the 10 fighters as “Azeem Khan from Paktia; Ateequllah, Muhammad Naeem, Muhammad Ya’qub, Ibraheemi and Kareemullah from Ghazni province’s Gilan district; Zabihullah Shabir from Ghazni’s Maqur district; Hafiz Saifullah from Paktika’s Khushamand; Amdadullah from Paktika’s Wazikhwa; Abdullah from Nangarhar and Abdur Raheem from Logar.”

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. Numerous Haqqani Network leaders have been added to the US’s list of Specially Designated Global terrorists for their support of al Qaeda and terrorism in Afghanistan [for more information on the Haqqani Network, see LWJ report, US adds senior Haqqani Network leader to terrorist list].

The Haqqani Network has previously released propaganda at Voice of Jihad, the Taliban’s propaganda website. In November 2011, Voice of Jihad released footage of Haqqani Network fighters going though training at a camp situated along the Afghan-Pakistani border and commemorated the suicide assault team that attacked the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul on June 28, 2011.

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  • Mint says:

    I did not click on the video, don’t want to be on some sort of terror list. But wanted to know if they show ISI agents giving instructions.

  • Medusa says:

    I’m a huge fan of your work. Some individual/group uploaded the entire Manba al-Jihad video on YouTube. I’m not sure of your editorial position vis-à-vis linking to terrorist propaganda material, so I’ll post the link in a separate comment (which you can delete at your discretion).
    Some of things I noticed:
    1. Multiple Haqqani fighters were kitted out in US Army ACUs or ANSF camo. Also, when the assault team is staging, you can see that they’re all wearing ACUs with the identical sneakers. These jihadists also have Soviet-made small arms, RPGs, machine guns, recoilless rifles, gas masks, and explosives material — clearly a well-financed outfit.
    2. There was an elaborate mini mock-up of FOB Salerno and a detailed pre-mission intelligence briefing (complete with Power Point presentations). This indicates a high-level infiltration of ANSF, Afghan civilians who work with ISAF, or Pakistani intelligence support — if not all three.
    3. The suicide truck (the breaching vehicle) came first. The video shows the massive explosion — and I do mean massive. The Taliban/Haqqanis weren’t kidding when they mentioned multiple tons of explosives.
    4. The assault team then rolls up in a van. How is that a van packed with a dozen-or-so, heavily-armed fighters just drives up to a US Forward Operating Base? It seems hard to believe that they drove directly from North Waziristan.
    5. The Long War Journal is cited. They have a screen shot of this article:
    However, they doctored the page and have a Washington Post masthead on top. Either that or WaPo linked to your article and the layout carries over.

  • Medusa says:

    Here is the link to the full-length Manba al-Jihad propaganda video. Don’t know how long YouTube will allow it to stay up:

  • D.B. says:

    At running time 47:14 they featured your page from this site in the video, although they have edited it and replaced a new title and a heading to make it appear to be from the from the Washington Post.

  • shazia says:


  • Graham says:

    Where is the enemy getting all these MARPAT uniforms?

  • Max says:

    What heros. They got a big surprise just after they died, though. Just the opposite of what they expected.

  • gary mags says:

    its amazing how the taliban when they came to power in afghanistan in the 90s,destoyed tv sets and stopped music,and here they are using video cameras and projector screens,talk about double standards..they are just mudering bandits

  • LPD-RI says:

    Don’t these guys ever get sick of repeating ‘Allah hu ackbar’ over and over and over? At least think of a new phrase to say, geez.
    I’d have to agree with the above commenter…the way that van rolls up and they all casually hop out right outside the FOB…very disturbing. It seems to me a further confirmation of our wrongheaded tactics in Afghanistan. Rather than hole up in FOBs and COPs and send out a few patrols a day…why aren’t we taking the fight to the Taliban?
    Why aren’t we setting up ambushes nightly in their ‘safe areas’? Oh, that’s right, because we don’t have enough troops!
    Why aren’t we attacking the terrorist safe havens in the tribal areas of Pakistan? Oh, that’s right, because Pakistan is our ally! And to this day, we fund them with billions of dollars of US taxpayer money, so they can brazenly hide and support people like Osama Bin Laden.
    Our total lack of strategy and resolve in Afghanistan is now rearing its ugly head. 11 years on, and what have we accomplished? We installed an incredibly corrupt Karzai government; we allowed the Taliban to reestablish control over huge parts of the country; we never provided enough troops to ‘finish the job’, assuming anyone ever had an idea of what exactly the job was; we have poured hundreds of billions of dollars down the drain; we have lost over 2,000 brave young Americans.
    Enough is enough here…
    PS- I highly recommend Bing West’s “The Wrong War”, excellent book that exposes our completely contradictory and self-defeating ‘strategy’.

  • LT Kraft says:

    Why would you be scared to see the video? That’s got to be the stupidest thing I have ever heard. You realize this video has gone viral, or are you to stupid to understand that. Yeah the men in black are going to come get you for watching a videro linked to nearly every major media outlet in the States.

  • Devin Leonard says:

    This just shows me that the Haqqanis are capable of a few “spectaculars” but then they get wasted when they go mano a mano with US troops in any sustained gunfight….just like the rest of the Taliban. The US will hunt down the Taliban and decimate their ranks just like we have the Taliban.

  • TLA says:

    Reminds me a bit of Stuntman Challenge. And today’s test is from Smokay and the Bandit II….

  • Jim Calle says:

    Your pages report drone attacks on the Haqqani Network but I join several other readers in wondering why we have not heard of a more concerted effort to wipe out this group. It appears to be a large, well-financed and well-organized group. Its spectacular attacks on US troops help create wonderful recruiting videos. Why are we not more effective against them?

  • Tom Wilbur says:

    I’ve got my gun and it’s loaded.

  • Orion says:

    So…they traded 10 fighters and their gear, 1 bomber, a truck, a van, and 10 tons of explosive material for…
    knocking down a PX, knocking down a DFAC, and killing 1 Soldier.
    Not exactly a good exchange of effectives and assets from a command perspective. Probably the best these despicable animals could ever hope to manage.

  • Larry says:

    Yeah, I wouldn’t worry too much about getting on any “watch list” because you watched this video…especially if you have nothing to hide.
    This video(and others like it) are all over the internet. Thanks for linking it though Medusa. It was an interesting watch. Too bad I can’t understand anything they are saying.

  • Steffan Davies says:

    I’m going to guess potassium chlorate (potent oxidiser) and a fuel of some sort (analogous to ANFO, hence the det cord, mines and TNT to initiate it) rather than potassium chloride, which is chemically very similar to table salt.

  • Dennis says:

    Towards the end of the video they claim to have destroyed an aircraft showing a picture of it. Funny thing is the picture was of a MC-130P that crashed on a runway in Iraq…in 2005. (http://gruntdoc.com/2005/01/iraq-c-130-crash-photos.html). You can even get a plastic model of the crash site (http://www.network54.com/Forum/47751/thread/1163023274/1163692326/Crashed++MC-130+Combat+Talon+II+++1-48).

  • anon says:

    lol, the aircraft on the runway was not destroyed, it flew away days later. it wasnt even a military aircraft. also, the people who flew that aircraft were right next to it when the VBIED went off, and they then ran to cover after i assume, they got up onto their feet after being knocked down by the blast. The soldier who was killed was just an unfortunate thing due to the fact it was from shrapnel. The van was hiding around the corner. After the explosion, it drove up. during the time shortly after the explosion, i assume the tower guards were also getting up off their feet. they did not “torch the van” the helos fired on it for cautionary measures. I have seen the video of our cameras and the insurgents were cut down quickly. Hell, the guy with all the RPGs, well, his own ammunition got the best of him. They were put into a fatal funnel, and they payed dearly for it haha.


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