Taliban release video of planning for Camp Bastion assault

The Taliban released a video clip that shows their fighters preparing for the Sept. 14 suicide assault on Camp Bastion in Helmand province, Afghanistan. The video includes footage of a planning session in front of a whiteboard that has a map of the base; the video also shows two of the fighters delivering their wills. The al Qaeda organization and a former Guantanamo Bay detainee were likely involved in the attack, US intelligence officials have told The Long War Journal.

The video clip was produced by Al Emera (the Emirate), the Taliban’s media arm, and was released today on Voice of Jihad, the Taliban’s official propaganda website. The clip is a segment of a larger video; the Taliban said that a “full detailed video of the same operation will be released at a later date.”

During the Sept. 14 suicide assault on Camp Bastion, a 15-man Taliban team penetrated the perimeter at the airbase, destroyed six USMC Harriers and damaged two more, and killed the squadron commander and a sergeant. Fourteen of the 15 members of the assault team were killed, while the last was wounded and captured. Camp Bastion is a sprawling military base shared by US Marines and British troops that is located in the middle of the Dashti Margo desert in Helmand province.

In the Taliban video clip released today, several fighters are seen dressed in US Army digital combat fatigues. The faces of many of the members of the assault team are digitally blocked. Two members of the team provide their wills; one of them speaks in English.

The English-speaking fighter said he is conducting the attack to avenge insults against the Koran and the Prophet Mohammed, and said the mission was targeted at “[President] Obama, Crusaders, and other non-Muslims.” The man, who appears to be the tactical commander of the raid, then gives a briefing in front of a whiteboard that shows a map of a section of the airbase where the assault took place. He speaks in Pashto,while the writing on the whiteboard is in Urdu, a language commonly spoken in Pakistan.

The map details the fence and the locations of guard towers, aircraft shelters, helicopters, strike aircraft, and other buildings. The point selected by the Taliban for penetrating the perimeter is close to a series of hangars that they believed housed helicopters and aircraft.

During the assault, the Taliban penetrated the perimeter and broke into three teams, according to the International Security Assistance Force. Once inside the perimeter, the Taliban attacked the hangars, aircraft, and other buildings. In addition to destroying six Harriers and damaging two more, the Taliban attack teams managed to blow up three aircraft refueling stations and damage six aircraft hangars.

The Taliban released a statement about the attack on Sept. 15, and named two of the units that were involved: the “Khalid ibn al Walid group” and the “Omar bin al Khattab group.” Khalid ibn al Walid was a companion of the Prophet Mohammed and a renowned military commander; Omar bin al Khattab was also a companion and was the leader behind the expansion of the caliphate in the 700s.

In the statement accompanying today’s video, the Taliban exaggerated the death toll and the damage inflicted during the Camp Bastion assault. They claimed that the raid “resulted in the death of 47 invaders while more than 34 others were wounded,” and said that “more than 11 enemy Harrier Jets and helicopters were also eliminated as well as a several fuel reserves and aircraft hangers completely destroyed.”

Lashkar al Zil likely involved in the Camp Bastion attack

The raid likely had the support of al Qaeda and Pakistani terror groups, US intelligence officials told The Long War Journal. The Camp Bastion suicide assault is similar to several other attacks on major military installations in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In two recent attacks in Pakistan, against Mehran Naval Base in Karachi and the Kamra Air Base, the assault teams were able to destroy Pakistani aircraft. Al Qaeda and the so-called Punjabi Taliban, as well as the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, have been linked to those assaults.

The Lashkar al Zil, or Shadow Army, al Qaeda’s military arm that supports jihadist operations and integrates elements of local and regional jihadist groups, has been linked to suicide assaults on Bagram Air Base and Forward Operating Base Salerno in Khost [see LWJ report, Jihadists launch complex assault on Camp Bastion in Helmand, for more details on the assaults in the region].

In addition to the member of the suicide assault team who was wounded and then captured during the raid, ISAF subsequently captured a local Taliban commander who “is suspected to have provided support to the insurgents.”

A US military intelligence official told The Long War Journal that the Mullah Dadullah Front, the Taliban subgroup led by Mullah Zakir, the former Guantanamo Bay detainee and current overall military commander of the Afghan Taliban, was involved in the Camp Bastion assault. Zakir and the Mullah Dadullah front are closely linked to al Qaeda and have adopted the group’s tactics, including suicide bombings [for more information on Zakir and the Mullah Dadullah Front, , see LWJ reports, The Gitmo Files: 2 of Afghanistan’s most wanted hid leadership roles while in US custody, and Financier for ‘Mullah Dadullah Front’ captured in Afghan south].

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  • HC says:

    AP has reported that the labelling on the map in the video is in Urdu indicating that the fighters are Pakistani.

  • an Afghan says:

    The writings on the map was in Urdu. This clip shows clearly that pakis provided the map and training to these brain washed kids …

  • Not Urdu says:

    Well from what I can see the writing on the whiteboard isn’t Urdu. Keep in mind Urdu and Pashto basically have the same script with some differences. The only word on the map which resembles an Urdu word would be the word “Camp”which is directly taken from English and written in Pashto/Urdu script. The word “Camp” does appear a lot. The rest of the words are not Urdu. The phrasing “Fransawi camp” and “Americani camp” are typical for Pashto.

  • mike merlo says:

    Interesting Post by the TLWJ. Another fine example that exposes the ‘Wests” lack of understanding of the nuances that govern other ‘peoples’ mind sets. I personally would never allow anyone subordinate to me to post a video, even though after the fact, of pre-mission/operation planning. Yet for reasons that have yet to be clearly explained the ‘video’ obviously resonant’s with a particular audience targeted by the ‘Taliban’ and ‘Islamists’ propaganda machine

  • Tony Buzan says:

    Am I the only guy around that thinks these guys are lame in cutting through a chain link fence?
    Way slow, way slow, make a smaller hole to go faster, the cutter just seemed confused.
    A hopeful sign perhaps, of blatant stupidity on the part of the enemy?

  • Barry Larking says:

    I have watched the video. I have listened to the English speaking now dead-as-mutton terrorist to hear where he might have learned the language. No hint at all of a British regional accent, but similar to the useage commonly found in immigrants from the sub-Continent to the U.K. It takes a while to pick up a local accent. Interestingly, the first speaker is holding (by the magazine) what looks like a non-standard SA85 rifle.

  • Mr T says:

    How would this group of clowns ever get onto our base, much less be able to move around and cause that much damage. Their long hair, beards, and tennis shoes should have given them away instantly. Something doesn’t look right here.
    They do not appear well trained. I agree the fence cutter guy took way more time than needed. 15 guys standing around for 2 minutes while the fence is cut? How did they even get that close? Why would you park multi million $ jets next to the perimeter fence? Who gets to interrogate the captured terrorist? Afghan or US? When will we release him back to the battlefield?

  • RQ says:

    L M A O. Taliban are getting smarter. They make propaganda videos.
    They have a lot of highly trained men. X-Pak military. Not all men are well trained.
    We cannot say for sure if these were the actual men that took part in the attack.

  • steve, scuba type says:

    For all of you complaining about the fence cutting, that is a clip of their training.
    1. they only have a rifle every other guy
    2. it is a bamboo stick holding the fence
    3. it is inside a mud compound
    These guys got lucky, they had some training and got lucky, that is all.
    What’s with the two blurred faces? Are these the two rogue rangers?


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