Taliban promotes yet another jihad training camp

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The Taliban’s military offensives in northern and southern Afghanistan, particularly in Kunduz, Baghlan, and Helmand provinces, have been backed by an unprecedented media campaign. While the Taliban regularly touts operations throughout Afghanistan, the group recently released a slickly produced video that highlights its “Abdullah ibn Mubarak Jihad Training Camp.” The video, which is produced in multiple languages, including English, is titled “Real Men,” and is geared to encourage Muslims from all countries to wage jihad.

The 19-minute long video was produced by Manba al Jihad Media for the Taliban’s “Commission for Cultural Affairs, Audio and Visual Sector.” The video was publicized on the Twitter feed of Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid.

Manba al Jihad Media is the propaganda arm of the Haqqani Network, the Taliban subgroup closely allied with al Qaeda. The Haqqani Network’s operational leader, Sirajuddin Haqqani, serves as one of two deputy emirs for the Taliban as well as head of the group’s military branch.

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, another that detailed the 2012 suicide assault on Forward Operating Base Salerno, the confirmation of the death of Badruddin Haqqani in 2013, and the “Caravan of Heroes” videos in 2015.

The Taliban’s latest “Real Men” video contradicts many of the group’s public statements and claims to only seeks to liberate Afghanistan from occupation. Instead, this production makes it clear that the Taliban views itself as a fervent defender of Islam and part of the global jihad. This should come as no surprise as the Taliban has often revealed its close relation to global jihadist groups, such as when it publicly accepted a pledge of allegiance from al Qaeda’s emir, Ayman al Zawahiri.

At the beginning of the video, the Taliban narrator attacks the US, Western countries and the Afghan government for assailing the Taliban’s values by promoting democracy, elections, women’s rights, homosexuality and immorality, through various means such as the internet, TV, radio, and cultural programs.

The narrator then states that Muslims across the world have seen through these “conspiracies” and are seeking to wage jihad. The footage of the camp is designed to “encourage Muslim youth” to wage jihad.

“Many youth among the Muslim Ummah [global community] having realized conspiracies of the enemies leaves the life of comfort and rushes towards the training camps of the mujahideen to get trained,” the narrator says.

“Thus we are presenting our honorable viewers with the training activities of some of the mujahideen from one of their training camps with the hope that this will encourage Muslim youth in defending their religion, Muslim lands, and we would have performed some of our religious duties,” he continues.

The Taliban then shows footage of dozens of its fighters training at its Abdullah ibn Mubarak Jihad Training Camp. The location of the camp is not disclosed. As the footage is shown, several Taliban luminaries and unnamed fighters give speeches.

A slain jihadist ideologue known as Ustad Ahmad Zahir justifies terrorism and notes that it is “part of Islam.”

“Terrorism means terrorizing. This is to cast horror and fear in the heart of the enemy. Terrorism is part of Islam and therefore whoever denies it is not from it,” Zahir says. “You must be prepared in order to cast horror in the heart of the enemies of Allah.”

An unnamed fighter says that the Taliban is training its recruits to “dominate Islam” and they are prepared to attack outside of Afghanistan.

“We are getting trained today in order to dominate Islam,” unnamed fighter says. “We will follow you in your homes, in your capitals and in your countries. We have made our intentions and we are clearly seeing our goal that Islam will dominate. Today we are preparing, hoping that Islam will dominate.”

Jihadist training camps in Afghanistan

The Taliban has publicized several training camps in Afghanistan in recent years. In Dec. 2014, the Taliban showcased a training camp in the Jawzjan district of Faryab Province. In Jan. 2015, it highlighted a training camp in Kunar. Last June, the jihadist group advertised a “special forces” training camp somewhere in Afghanistan. Two months later, a training camp in the Zurmat district of Paktia Province was touted online. In Sept. 2016, the Haqqani Network, a powerful subgroup of the Taliban, released a video from its Salahadin Ayyubi camp someplace in eastern Afghanistan. And in July 2016, the Taliban promoted the Omar ibn Khattab Training Camp, which is thought to be located in Kunduz province.

Other jihadist groups, including al Qaeda, are known to operate camps inside Afghanistan. In 2015, the US raided an al Qaeda camp in Bermal district in Paktika, and two others in the Shorabak district in Kandahar province. The outgoing commander of US forces in Afghanistan, General John Campbell, said that one of the camps in Shorabak was the largest in Afghanistan since the US invaded in 2001. Al Qaeda has also operated camps in Kunar and Nuristan.

Harakat-ul-Mujahideen a Pakistani jihadist group that is closely allied with al Qaeda,“operates terrorist training camps in eastern Afghanistan,” the US government stated in 2014. The Turkistan Islamic Party, the Islamic Jihad Union, and the Imam Bukhari Jamaat, an Uzbek jihadist group that operates in both Syria and Afghanistan, have all claimed to operate camps inside Afghanistan.

Screen shots from the “Real Men” video:

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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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5 Comments

  • Nick Epshtien says:

    The shoe is on the other foot, while in the 80’s the CIA and Pakistan’s ISI used the Afghans to bleed Soviet Russia, nowadays there is a unholy alliance between Russia, Syria, Muslim brotherhood and all kinds of unsavory Jihadists thats forming due to western geopolitics that makes Russia feel unrespected globally, take a good look at the pictures above- the weaponry is suspiciously very modern Russian AK 74 and AK 100 rifles and squad formations are like the Russian spetznaz, I wonder how many of those in the masks are KGB and Spetznaz instructors. Only constant is Afghan Territory and the forever utterly spineless Pakistan ISI.
    US, EU, Israel please note and take action now or there will be hell to pay later.

  • Arjuna says:

    Great article. We should refer to these camps as ISI camps. You can’t see them in the photos but the S Wing liaisons are there.

    I wonder why no candidate mentioned Al Qaeda or the Taliban last night. It’s as if ISIS was the only terrorist group planning to attack the USA. If we are this blinkered on the threat, and unwilling to work with Russia and Iran against Sunni terrorism emanating from Saudi Arabia and the very Islamic State, then it’s going to be another hundred years of suicidal maniacs and surveillance

    • Nick Epshtien says:

      Dear Arjuna,
      The reason why no candidate mentioned other jihadists is that lay Americans like any other country citizens in this world have a very limited horizon and attention span. this is the reason why the Candidates are limited to 2 minutes or 120 seconds for each reply. this is the 21st century evolution of viewers, the days when Hitler or Stalin or Trotsky could drone on for hours ended in the last century.
      Regards.

  • Kawsar says:

    another small suggestion, Jawzjan is not a district of Faryab Province, its a separate province in northern Afghanistan.

  • Evan says:

    I don’t know Nick, the fact that these guys are sporting “new,” Russian rifles and imitating Spetnaz TTP’s, doesn’t lend itself to collusion between the Russians and these terrorist groups.
    I’ve seen pictures of Spetnaz teams in Syria with EO tech Exps-3 optics on their rifles.
    EO tech is a part of L3 Comms., an American company, that doesn’t mean that were selling the Russians gear, or working with them.
    Russia is very obviously no friend of the West, et. al.
    But, the accusation that the Russians, through their Spetnaz teams, are arming and training groups like the Taliban, based solely on pictures of their gear, and training, is pretty far out there. No disrespect intended.

    I would say it’s more of a testament to a couple of different things. One being that these guys have some serious funding, they’ve got money, and they’ve obviously got access to black market arms dealers, and they’ve more than likely purposely opted for the AK variants you previously listed, for a whole host of reasons, availability not withstanding.
    The other reason, regarding their use, or adaptation of Spetnaz TTP’s, just goes to show that theirs someone with some brains leading these guys, they have access to the Internet, they have access to books and training manuals, and this adaptation we’re seeing is a hallmark of insurgencies and guerrillas.
    For example, in Iraq, the terrorists were using British and American Sniper manuals/ books to train their own snipers, not because they just love us so much, but because they recognized the tactics, and procedures were valuable and they wanted to win.
    Which is really more than likely why you see these scumbags attempting to mimic the Spetnaz formations….

Iraq

Islamic state

Syria

Aqap

Al shabaab

Boko Haram

Isis