The Taliban released a new propaganda video in late May depicting a recent series of attacks against Afghan security forces in the rugged and remote northeastern province of Badakhshan. The video, which is over an hour long, contains an interview with Qari Fasehuddin, the Taliban shadow governor for Badakhshan, who claimed his group is waging jihad to deter US and German forces from looting Badakhshan’s natural resources.
Fasehuddin, who is reportedly around 30 years old, commands an insurgent force of nearly 1,000 fighters located in seven of Badakhshan’s districts, according to Afghan officials interviewed by The Washington Post. Fasehuddin was targeted by coalition forces during a combined operation codenamed Operation Hindu Kush in September 2013, but he escaped the dragnet despite his residence being raided by International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) and Afghan security personnel.
The video depicts several skirmishes between Taliban insurgents pitted against Afghan Border Police (ABP), Afghan Local Police (ALP), and Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers. Taliban fighters can be seen overrunning at least two checkpoints and what appears to be an ANA outpost in an area referred to as Bashan. The Taliban tout the capturing of medium and heavy weapons, including DShK 12.7mm machineguns, 82mm mortar tubes, as well as various communications equipment.
The Taliban also appear to have captured 22 Afghan security personnel, and judging by the uniforms of those captured, they included ABP and ALP personnel. However, the fate of the captured security personnel remains unknown, as some of them are later shown being “tried” by a mobile Taliban court led by Qari Fasehuddin in a remote forested area.
Taliban fighters were also shown hurriedly trying to commandeer ANA M1152 ECV High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWV) vehicles, some of which failed to operate and were burned in place. However, at least two damaged HMMWVs, commonly known as Humvees, were filmed being driven, albeit clumsily, by Taliban fighters who had also captured five functioning Afghan National Police (ANP) Ford Ranger pickup trucks; the words “RC-North” can be seen on at least one of the pickup trucks.
Taliban fighters captured two damaged but still functional M1152 ECV series HHMWVs which had belonged to the ANA.
Taliban fighters captured five operating ANP Ford Ranger pickup trucks.
Destroyed vehicles burn at an Afghan security post in Bashan, Badakhshan Province. The attack probably had occurred on May 3.
Commander Imamuddin (circled) addresses a crowd of villagers along with his Taliban fighters.
Throughout the video, numerous cameramen could be observed filming multiple angles of the same event. In this photo, a Talib videotapes Immamuddin (above) from a different angle using a smartphone.
Background on attacks
The Taliban launched a series of attacks in April and May against Afghan forces in restive districts of Badakhshan, namely Warduj and Yamgan; both locations were referenced in the video. Qari Fasehuddin, probably an ethnic Tajik, hails from Warduj, according to a biography written about him last year and published on the Taliban Voice of Jihad website. Notably, he spoke in Dari throughout the video.
It is very likely that the attacks shown in the video happened on May 3 when Taliban fighters reportedly overran at 10 Afghan security check points in Warduj district. The bodies of 17 slain Afghan police personnel were recovered following the clash, and 26 were reported missing at that time, according to Tolo News; an account that closely resembles the 22 security personnel captured and held by the Taliban in the video. The dead bodies of ANA and ABP personnel, numbering around eight individuals, were also shown in the video. The “chocolate-chip” six-color desert camouflage fatigues of the ABP can be seen on at least three of the corpses.
The Taliban reportedly claimed on their website that the May 3 attacks had resulted in the capturing of “2 bases, 10 outposts, 10 armored vehicles, 7 Ford Ranger pick-up trucks, and weapons and ammunition, among them 7 Russian DShK heavy machine guns, 2 mortars, tens of ‘rockets’, Russian PK machine guns, and Kalashnikov rifles as well as ammunition,” according to a media summary by Jane’s Intelligence.
The video does not appear to contain footage of the devastating assault against an ANA outposts in Jurm District in mid-April that resulted in scores of ANA casualties. At least 18 ANA personnel were killed in the vicious attack, some of them beheaded, according to Tolo News.
Former shadow governor eulogized
The video also eulogized a number of Taliban commanders killed in Badakhshan, including Qari Fakhruddin, a former acting Taliban shadow governor for Badakhshan, who was killed in the summer of 2014. Fakhruddin and nine other insurgents were killed in a clash with Afghan security forces in the hotly contested Jurm district in early July 2014. [See Long War Journal report, 34 Taliban shadow administrators reported killed or captured in Afghanistan in 2014.]
The video also eulogized Sayed Shah, a Taliban commander who was killed in late March 2014 after clashing with Afghan security forces in Jurm District, according to Tolo News.