Afghan Taliban parades forces after capturing district in Ghazni

The Afghan Taliban paraded its forces in broad daylight without fear of retribution after overrunning the district center of Waghaz in the southeastern Afghanistan province of Ghazni last month.

The Taliban detailed its exploits in Ghazni in a video, entitled “Conquest of Waghaz,” that was released today on its official propaganda website, Voice of Jihad.

“Waghaz district of Ghazni province is among the regions which has been completely liberated from enemy presence with the commencement of the blessed new military campaign of Islamic Emirate dubbed ‘Operation Mansouri,” the statement accompanying the video proclaimed.

In the video, the Taliban paraded scores of fighters driving motorcycles, cars, and a US-made Humvee that was captured during the assault on the district center. The fighters operated in the open, unconcerned that they will be targeted by US or Afghan aircraft.

Taliban fighters were shown raising the white banner of the jihadist group over the district center. The group also claimed to seize large quantities of weapons and ammunition during the assault.

The Taliban took control of Waghaz on May 22, the same day it assaulted areas in the capital of Ghazni City. The Taliban also bombed the governor’s compound during the fighting.

The Taliban now claims to control five of Ghazni’s 18 districts (Nawa, Khogyani, Rasheedan, Waghaz, and Zana Khan), and controls 60 percent or more of nine other districts. Only three districts (Nawar, Ajiristan, and Malistan) are fully under government control. FDD’s Long War Journal has assessed the Taliban’s claims of territorial control to be credible.

Afghan forces have ceded control of some rural districts to the Taliban, excusing the districts as strategically unimportant. The Taliban has instead used these districts as bases to attack Afghan forces in more populous districts. The US military estimates that the Taliban now controls or contests 40 percent of Afghanistan’s districts, while the Taliban claims the number is closer to 50 percent.

Ghazni is also a known haven for al Qaeda and other allied jihadist groups. The presence of al Qaeda, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, and Lashkar-e-Taiba cells have been detected in the districts of Andar, Deh Yak, Gelan, Ghazni, Shah Joy, and Waghaz, according to an investigation by FDD’s Long War Journal.

Al Qaeda has long viewed Ghazni as one of four key provinces in Afghanistan. In a letter written on Oct. 3, 2010 to Atiyah Abl al Rahman, Osama bin Laden advised key al Qaeda personnel to the eastern Afghan provinces of Nuristan, Kunar, Ghazni and Zabul from Pakistan’s tribal areas to avoid the US drone campaign in North and South Waziristan. [See FDD’s Long War Journal reports, Bin Laden advised relocation of some leaders to Afghanistan due to drone strikes in Waziristan, and Osama Bin Laden’s Files: Al Qaeda relocated operatives out of northern Pakistan.]

Images from the Taliban video, “Conquest of Ghazni”

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

Are you a dedicated reader of FDD's Long War Journal? Has our research benefitted you or your team over the years? Support our independent reporting and analysis today by considering a one-time or monthly donation. Thanks for reading! You can make a tax-deductible donation here.

Tags: , ,

13 Comments

  • Steve Silverman says:

    Help me please understand the perspective surrounding this article. After $$Billions in aid, support, loss of life etc. , how can there be a show of force like this by an enemy(Taliban) of the Afghan gov. …..Makes you think we’re getting played by both?
    Thanks

    • Jacob says:

      Because war is the only economy in Afghanistan. Where you do think Taliban buy their ammunition and weapons from? Directly from Afghan National Army.

  • Steve Silverman says:

    Mean’t to say where the hell is the Afghan offense?

  • Paddy Singh says:

    I feel for the Afghanis let down by the US and the UK who never could, due to not being capable, finish the job – rid the country of the Taliban.

    • irebukeu says:

      Remember when Bush was saying that we were only going to Afghanistan to get al Qaeda while his wife Laura and the state department concurrently pressed the case against the Taliban for deplorable women’s rights and dope peddling. The long war was from the start. Osama went out the back door after the CIA told the president that without US troops as a blocking force, Osama would slip away through Afghan and Pakistani fingers. US army rangers were requested by the forces on the ground. Bush hired the non existent “eastern shura” and we got Osamas Satellite phone. WOW!
      History and our current path forward tells me that this will not be a success. I too, feel bad for many of the Afghans. I feel more strongly about the 25,000 American causalities of this Afghan conflict-the longest conflict in American history and the burden put on future US taxpayers. The conflict will continue at home for many years in politics as Americans call other Americans, non-Americans for letting down veterans and not taxing enough or borrowing enough to pay for the Billions upon billions of dollars needed to pay the costs of the historically unprecedented number of ailments for each disabled claimant. Politicians of both sides will spend millions to do studies to see where the money was wasted. Letting down Afghans will not come up in any of the discussions or studies.
      Projected costs for the care of the injured and disabled going forward stagger the mind. (by 2011 over 1/2 million vets from Iraq and Afghanistan had claimed disabilities). In 2011, the estimate going forward was over half a trillion dollars. As these costs accrue, more costs for war will occur at the same time and more veterans and more claims can be expected. The great sadness I feel is for today’s losses and tomorrows costs for very little gain. What care will we be able to afford a very large group of veterans and exactly what care can they expect to get-especially as new treatments not factored in get discovered/invented and then that cost added. I feel they will be forever shortchanged as long as the pool of them is large, already too large and growing for the monies that will be allotted.
      Since most Taliban are Afghans you will never rid Afghanistan of them. NEVER. Lets get out and they will work a deal. They always work a deal. If we leave they will ponder what to do next. They will work a deal.
      If we surge back in to Afghanistan does the HIG now have to be booted or arrested? Or do Americans pretend Terrorists that hate and have killed Americans are not in their midst.
      We didn’t let the Afghans down. They let us down. Now its time to go.

  • Frank Dunn says:

    “The US military estimates that the Taliban now controls or contests 40 percent of Afghanistan’s districts, while the Taliban claims the number is closer to 50 percent.”

    Since the Pentagon has analysis for almost all its contingencies, how many US troops will be lost to retake these lost districts while holding the 50% not held by the Taliban? How many casualties? How much money per district? And, if successful, how long do we have to garrison each district or province to keep the the Taliban from returning? Is there anyone in leadership willing to discuss the realities of Afghanistan?

    • Joe says:

      None. Taliban will occupy these districts for the foreseeable future.

    • irebukeu says:

      If you read the book “War comes to Garmser” you will see somewhat how quickly these places can be flipped, lost and flipped back again.

    • Jacob says:

      Afghan war has become a scam. I just hope China, Russia and Iran stay out of it. Though it doesn’t seem like they would.

  • jack says:

    so how come we did not drone them?

  • den says:

    How is it that only the Taliban knew of this parade? Absolutely no intel? None? Couldn’t dispatch ONE fighter plane, A-10,B-52? Nothing? Find it hard to believe this was allowed to go on! Not like they could down anything just happening to be in the area. Women and children in the area? Hardly a good reason.Sorry, I’m a bit disappointed. They kill people indiscriminately ALL THE TIME !!

  • James says:

    “The US military estimates that the Taliban now controls or contests 40 percent of Afghanistan’s districts, while the Taliban claims the number is closer to 50 percent.”

    After 8 years, those tail bunnies haven’t even made it to midfield yet (the 50-yard line), and you all are already wanting to just “cut and run.” What a joke. What a shame. Let’s just let AQ (or worse, ISIS) control Afghanistan’s opium production. And, don’t forget Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. I despise losers. I have no sympathy (or even empathy) for such.

    The previous administration tried the “cut and run” strategy in Iraq/Syria and look at the nightmare over there that has now developed (which we are still trying to correct).

    Like I’ve said many times on LWJ, if it takes US a thousand years to succeed in Afghanistan, well then so be it. You all like to call it the graveyard of the empires, I like to call it the graveyard of AQ. Let’s keep it that way.

    Give our people (our troops) the resources and free hand they need to get the job done, and they will get the job done.

  • jen says:

    My mother had a sign next to our telephone while I was growing up (yes, a phone attached to the wall that one could not walk around with!) that said “Put mind in gear before opening mouth.”
    When did all the great military thinkers decide to jump over that idea? Terrorism starts with the mind – yet no one – no one – takes this into account in this horrendous situation. There are real people – almost half the population being children – Afghans, who are NOT the Taliban and would not have anything to do with them if not forced to do so; whose parents loved them and they grew up wanting to have children and love their own families. I am waiting for That article. The one addressing this most basic fact, without which “winning” a war on “terror” is inconceivable!

Iraq

Islamic state

Syria

Aqap

Al shabaab

Boko Haram

Isis