Taliban promotes ‘mujahideen’ graduates from one of its military training camps

Taliban fighters from the “Mahmud Ghaznawi Military Camp” train in the mountains somewhere in Afghanistan or Pakistan. Image from the Taliban’s Voice of Jihad website.

The Taliban continues to highlight the training of its fighters at its “military camps” that are located somewhere in Afghanistan or Pakistan.

In a series of photographs released on Jan. 31 on Voice of Jihad, the Taliban’s official web site, the group lauded the “Mujahideen,” or holy warriors, who recently graduated from the Mahmud Ghaznawi Military Camp.

The photographs show the Taliban trainees exercising, drilling with weapons, and conducting day and night operations in a mountainous region as well as in vehicles, which are new Toyota Hiluxes. The trainees are equipped with new gear, including uniforms, backpacks, knee pads, gloves, and face masks. Some of the trainees wielded U.S.-made M-4 assault rifles, which presumably have been seized or bought from Afghan security forces.

The location of the camp was not disclosed, but it is situated in a mountainous area in either Afghanistan or neighboring Pakistan. Either way, the location is alarming for the U.S. military and foreign policy.

If it is located in Afghanistan, its existence further highlights the deteriorating security situation. The Taliban currently controls 74 and contests another 190 of Afghanistan’s 407 districts, according to an ongoing study by FDD’s Long War Journal.

If the Mahmud Ghaznawi Military Camp is located in Pakistan, then it highlights that country’s unwavering support for the Taliban.

The Taliban clearly has no fear of reprisal. Recruits are training openly, without fear of reprisal from Afghan, Resolute Support or Pakistani aircraft. Taliban flags are seen flying throughout the camp.

The camp is named after Mahmud Ghaznawi, a Muslim conquerer who seized Afghanistan, eastern Iran, and what is now known as Pakistan at the end of the 10th century.

The Mahmud Ghaznawi Military Camp was previously featured in a Taliban propaganda video that was released in Jan. 2019. In that video, the Taliban said it showed the training of its elite “commandos.” These fighters often serve at the tip of the spear for the Taliban assaults on district centers and cities. They have also launched deadly attacks against Afghan bases and military personnel.

The Mahmud Ghaznawi Military Camp is one of more than 20 training facilities that have been celebrated by the Taliban since 2014. The Taliban videos and photographs that promote these camps are often accompanied with English subtitles.

The Taliban is also known to share its training facilities with foreign jihadist groups, such as the Turkistan Islamic Party. Al Qaeda, the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, and Harakat-ul-Mujahideen are also known to operate training camps inside of Afghanistan. These groups could not operate training facilities without the explicit approval and support from the Taliban’s leadership and local units.

Photographs from the Mahmud Ghaznawi Military Camp

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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