Taliban video highlights training camp, operations in Kunar

The “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,” the official name of the Taliban, released a video that showcases its operations and a training camp in the remote northeastern province of Kunar.

The “Multimedia Branch of Islamic Emirate’s Cultural Commission” publicized the hour-long video today on Voice of Jihad, the group’s official website. Titled “Epic battles of Kunar,” the video features “footage of attacks by Mujahideen on enemy bases and check posts” and also shows “the head of Islamic Emirate for Kunar [sic] walking inside an overrun outpost,” according to the Taliban statement accompanying the release.

The video also eulogizes Noor Qasim Sabari, who was killed in a US airstrike in Kunar sometime in the late winter or early spring of 2014. [See LWJ report, Afghan Taliban confirms death of shadow governors for Kunar, Kandahar.]

It is unclear exactly where the Afghan security forces bases are that are shown in the video, or when the attacks took place. The Taliban do display several Afghan soldiers who were captured at a base in Naray.

The Taliban have been active in several districts in Kunar province, most recently in the district of Dangam, which is situated on the border with Pakistan. Afghan officials have claimed that more than 1,000 fighters from the Afghan Taliban, the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, and Lashkar-e-Taiba have been involved in an assault on the district.

In addition to footage of the fighting in Kunar and other standard Taliban propaganda featured in the video (such as claims that Afghan and US forces have been indiscriminately killing civilians), the jihadist group also released video from a training camp in the province. The camp is named after Khalid bin Waleed, a companion of the Prophet Mohammed and military general whose victories helped establish the first caliphate. The Taliban’s 2013 spring offensive was also named after Khalid bin Waleed. [See LWJ report, Taliban promise suicide assaults, ‘insider attacks’ in this year’s spring offensive.]

More than a dozen Taliban fighters are shown during training at the rudimentary camp; the trainees are shown marching, exercising, and firing their weapons. The activities are performed in an open field, indicating that the Taliban are not concerned with local security forces or Coalition aircraft.

The Khalid bin Waleed camp is the second training facility highlighted by the Taliban in the past two weeks. On Dec. 18, the Taliban released a video that showed fighters training in Faryab province. [See LWJ report, Taliban publicize training camp in northern Afghanistan.]

For years, the rugged, remote Afghan province of Kunar has served as a sanctuary for al Qaeda, the Lashkar-e-Taiba, and allied jihadist groups. The presence of al Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Taiba cells has been detected in the districts of Asmar, Asadabad, Dangam, Ghazibad, Marawana, Nari, Pech, Shaikal Shate, Sarkani, Shigal, and Watahpur; or 11 of Kunar’s 15 districts, according to press releases issued by the now-disbanded International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF, that have been compiled by The Long War Journal. Numberous al Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Taiba leaders have been killed in ISAF raids. [See LWJ report, ISAF raids against al Qaeda and allies in Afghanistan 2007-2013.]

ISAF stopped issuing press releases on its operations against the Taliban, al Qaeda, and other terrorist groups, such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, as of June 27, 2013. But local reporting from Afghanistan indicates that all of these groups remain active inside Afghanistan, including in Kunar.

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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  • Paulo Romero says:

    Exactly how much counter-insurgency has gone into 13 years of Nato Involvement??
    There have been many campaigns against the Taliban and Al Qaeda , yet they are resurgent and look even stronger against a reluctant Afghan National Army.
    One has to think that the current conditions in the East and South of the country point to the fact that the people in these regions have not been won over. Somebody ignored the first tenet of an insurgency and counter-insurgency “win over the people”. Taking and holding the human terrain in Taliban-centric areas should have been of paramount importance in this campaign. Sadly this has not happened sufficiently. The Taliban on the other hand seem to understand this perfectly ,and have the local populace in areas that they control either cowed or supportive of their cause.
    This should have been a policing action first and foremost , with lot’s of police work being put into isolating and destroying the key role players within the Taliban support infrastructure throughout Afghanistan. This would have isolated the Taliban and kept them away from the major cities at least. Right now they seem capable of attacking anywhere at will.
    The training of the Afghan forces leaves much to be desired as well. They seem road-bound and base-bound , with little desire to actually stand toe to toe with the Taliban and Al Qaeda in the mountains. They look as vulnerable to IED’s as Nato forces. Instead of training these soldiers in Western style tactics with massive dependence on air support, they should have been trained by former Northern Alliance troops and Commanders who’ve had years of experience fighting the Taliban at close quarters.
    Afghan style mountain warfare tactics(as employed by the Northern Alliance and Taliban themselves and late in the Soviet War by the Spetsnaz) as well as healthy doses of police work and good doses of counter-insurgency is what is needed by the Afghan Army. We are not even talking about corruption as yet , that needs to go to.
    Alas ! they seem hobbled by Western style infantry tactics , which largely failed over 13 years to subdue the Taliban in the mountainous East and in Helmand. Throwing in shiny new guns, and heaps of money at an Army low on morale won’t make it stronger. Iraq proved this. Perhaps pro-government Afghan veterans should have been employed to train Afghan soldiers at what works for Afghans. Next year’s fighting season will be a huge wake-up for the Afghan Government. They will either adapt quickly to the reality of marginal Western support or their Army will implode , from the strain of attrition.
    The good thing is that the majority of Afghans don’t want the Taliban back , so I do see a resurgence of some kind of pro-government militia and even pro-government warlords who may be better at taking the fight to the Taliban than the Afghan Army.

  • Barry Larkinga says:

    The Taliban statement “claims that Afghan and US forces have been indiscriminately killing civilians.”
    Irony is unknown among terrorists.
    Any concentration of the Taliban and or its numerous foreign fighters is to be welcomed. I hope you catch my drift.

  • jean says:

    Overall it’s a good piece of IO work. Some of the footage is dated and the clips go back to 2005-06. Being somewhat familiar with the AO, it was hard to pin point the “ training area”. Any type of flat or cleared land is typically cultivated or occupied. Also the trees/foliage was more consistent with northeast Kunar, than the Korengal/Waygal/Chapa Dara or Chowkay. There were rumornet reports of a training camp in North Watarpor, but it was never found. Training camps outside of Pakistan are problematic for the AQ/TAB. Food /Lodging are dependent on the local infrastructure.


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