Taliban parades fighters as 400 more prisoners are freed

The Taliban released a series of photographs that show its fighters parading in the eastern Afghan provinces of Logar, Laghman and Ghazni. The Taliban fighters were operating in broad daylight, without fear of reprisal from Afghan or Coalition forces.

The set of photographs was released on Voice of Jihad, the Taliban’s official website, on Aug. 10, 2020. The only text accompanying the images was the title, “Valiant Mujahideen in Ghazni, Logar and Laghman.”

FDD’s Long War Journal cannot confirm if the photographs were taken recently, or where they were taken. However, in the past the Taliban has released images and videos of similar event that have later proven to be accurate.

The photographs show scores of heavily armed Taliban fighters riding on motorcycles or in vehicles, and marching on foot, all while flying the Taliban’s distinctive white banner. The Taliban fighters have no fear of being targeted by air or ground operations.

The Taliban is known to control or heavily contest territory in all three provinces. [See FDD’s Long War Journal report, Mapping Taliban Control in Afghanistan.]

The Taliban is displaying its military might as Afghan politicians are hoping to conduct negotiations to end the nearly two decade-long war. In that effort, the Afghan government has agreed to release the final batch of 400 prisoners demanded by the Taliban.

Of the 400 Taliban prisoners to be set free:

  • 156 have been sentenced to death;
  • 105 are accused of murder;
  • 34 are accused of kidnapping that led to murder;
  • 51 are accused of drug smuggling;
  • 44 are blacklisted by the Afghan government and its allies;
  • Six are accused of other crimes;
  • Four are accused of unspecified crimes.

In all, more than 5,000 Taliban prisoners have been set free. These freed commanders and fighters are likely to bolster the ranks of the Taliban. Historically, former Taliban prisoners are known to return to the battlefield at high rates.

Images of “Valiant Mujahideen in Ghazni, Logar and Laghman”

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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