The Haqqani Network promoted suicide bombings, IED attacks, and ambushes that targeted Coalition and Afghan forces throughout eastern Afghanistan in a video that was recently released on Voice of Jihad, the official news outlet of the Afghan Taliban. One of the suicide bombers likely was a Uigher from China.
The video, which is titled ‘Caravan of Heroes’ and was published on April 5, was produced by Manba al Jihad Studio, the media arm of the Haqqani Network, a subgroup of the Taliban that is closely linked to al Qaeda. Manba al Jihad Studio has released other Haqqani Network productions on Voice of Jihad in the past, including a video of a Haqqani training camp in 2011, a video that detailed the 2012 suicide assault on Forward Operating Base Salerno, and the confirmation of the death of Badruddin Haqqani in 2013.
The video includes footage from al Qaeda propaganda. One piece of footage shows a convoy of jihadists in Afghanistan, and banners used by both al Qaeda and the Islamic State.
The Taliban claimed that the video “clearly lifts the veil and exposes enemy lies which claim that IEDs only cause civilian casualties and do not cause fatalities to their soldiers.” The Taliban are sensitive about yearly United Nations reports that routinely place the deaths of about 80 percent of civilian casualties at the feet of the Taliban.
The bulk of the lengthy, 61 minute and 55 second video focuses on ambushes and improvised explosive device (IED) attacks in the provinces of Kunar, Laghman, Wardak, Paktia, Paktika, Khost, and Ghazni. The IED attacks targeted both mounted and dismounted troops. IED clearance teams were targeted heavily; IED clearance vehicles as well as individuals attempting to disarm IEDs are struck multiple times.
Afghan police and military personnel in armored and unarmored vehicles are also heavily targeted. The Haqqani IED teams often select lightly armored vehicles in police and military convoys. The blasts are often so massive that up-armored vehicles are sent careening through the air.
The jihadist cameramen routinely record the aftermath of the attacks to capture the recovery operations. In one instance, the jihadists opened fire on a military ambulance as Afghan troops were loading a casualty from the attack.
The video ends with two suicide attacks against military bases in Wardak and Paktika. A suicide bomber who was identified as Fadhil Shaheen drove a small van into a base in Wardak. Another suicide bomber, identified as Jabir al Turkistani, drove a large truck packed with explosives into a base in the mountains in Pakitka. The massive detonation of the second attack is captured on video.
Jabir al Turkistani is likely a foreigner from Central Asia, possibly from China, as the ‘al Turkistani’ nom de guerre is often used by Chinese Uighers.
The suicide bombers were likely directed by Qari Zakir, who is also known as Abdul Rauf. Zakir serves as the Haqqani Network’s director of suicide operations in Afghanistan. The US government added Qari Zakir to its list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists in November 2012. [See LWJ report, US adds Haqqani Network suicide operations chief to list of global terrorists.]
The Haqqani Network has actively recruited foreign fighters to carry out attacks in Afghanistan in the past. In 2012, Mullah Sangeen Zadran, the Taliban’s shadow governor for Paktika who also was a senior military commander in the Haqqani Network, called on Turks and Kurds to wage jihad in Afghanistan. [See LWJ report, Senior Haqqani Network leader again calls on Turks, Kurds to wage jihad in Afghanistan.]
The Haqqani Network was listed by the US as a terrorist organization in 2012. More than a dozen Haqqani Network leaders have been listed as Specially Designated Global Terrorists; most of them have been directly tied to al Qaeda. In October 2010, former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said that the Haqqani network was part of “an unholy syndicate of terrorist groups working together …”
“Al Qaeda, the Haqqani network, the Pakistani Taliban, the Afghan Taliban and groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba. A success for one is a success for all,” Gates said. [See Threat Matrix report, Gates: ‘A success for one is a success for all’.]
Haqqani Network video: