In a newly released video, the Taliban promotes its “Preparation for Jihad” while focusing on a team of its so-called special forces. The Taliban continues to churn out propaganda that promotes jihad and the training of its fighters even as it is simultaneously negotiating an agreement with the United States that will lead to the withdrawal of US forces.
The video, titled “Preparation for Jihad (2)” was released by the Taliban on Aug. 10 on its official website, Voice of Jihad. The video was produced by Manba’ Al-Jihad Media, the main propaganda outlet for the Haqqani Network, an integral faction of the Taliban that is closely allied with al Qaeda and other foreign terrorist groups. Manba’ Al-Jihad Media was integrated into the Taliban’s propaganda apparatus years ago. Sirajuddin Haqqani, the head of the Haqqani Network, is the Taliban’s deputy emir. Siraj’s father, Jalaluddin, who died in 2018, is also featured in the video.
The video appears to show one of the Taliban’s specially trained units. The fighters are wearing new uniforms, boots, vests, backpacks, and other gear. They are outfitted with identical equipment, and their weapons appear to be well maintained.
The Taliban are also shown navigating an obstacle course, in the same fashion as al Qaeda propaganda videos from its training camps in Afghanistan in the 1990s.
In one segment of the video, the Taliban are conducting military drills in formation. An homage to Jalaluddin Haqqani, with a speech, is overlaid onto the video.
In another segment, the Taliban squad is training with handguns at a range.
Background on jihadist training camps in Afghanistan
The Taliban has publicly flaunted more than 20 of its training camps since the end of 2014. In late 2015, the Taliban announced that its Khalid bin Walid Camp operated 12 satellite facilities throughout Afghanistan, and had the capacity to “train up to 2,000 recruits at a single time.” Additionally, it said the Khalid bin Walid Camp “trains recruits in eight provinces (Helmand, Kandahar, Ghazni, Ghor, Saripul, Faryab, Farah and Maidan Wardak)” and “has around 300 military trainers and scholars.”
Other jihadist groups, including al Qaeda, are also 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 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. Coalition forces have also raided Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan suicide training camps in Samagan and Sar-i-Pul in 2011.
Additionally, the US military has targeted training centers used by the Turkistan Islamic Party and the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan over the past several months. In Feb., the US military said it struck “Taliban training facilities in Badakhshan province, preventing the planning and rehearsal of terrorist acts near the border with China and Tajikistan by such organizations as the East Turkistan Islamic Movement and others.”
In March 2018, the US military hit the Ghazi Camp in Kunar province, which was used by the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, or TTP. The son of Mullah Fazlullah, the previous emir of the TTP, and two commanders, including the camp’s trainer of suicide bombers, were reportedly killed.
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