Rogue Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers Lambar Khan and Lieutenant Ihasanullah were featured in a Taliban produced video, “Afghan Ghazyian,” on July 23, 2013.
Lambar Khan, a rogue Afghan National Army (ANA) soldier responsible for killing a Slovakian International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) member and injuring six others in early July, has appeared in a recently produced Taliban propaganda video. The video honors Khan along with a second renegade ANA soldier who helped him escape from custody less than a week after the attack. The 37-minute video, titled “Afghan Ghazyian” (“Afghan Champions”), was released through the Taliban’s propaganda outlet, and published on the El Emara website and other jihadi internet venues on July 23.
For the most part, the lengthy video depicts Lambar Khan and Lieutenant Ihasanullah, the ANA officer who helped Khan escape custody, narrating their version of events concerning the deadly July 9 attack and subsequent jailbreak on July 14. Both men are hailed as “ghazi” by the Taliban, a term that refers to an individual who has had success in his or her struggle against non-believers or ‘infidels.’
Khan, who claims he hails from Murgai village in the Achin district of Nangarhar province, states in the video that he had planned to attack Coalition forces who were involved in “carrying out night raids and detaining people.” Khan notes that although he joined the ANA eight months ago he had planned to kill Coalition forces prior to joining the army.
The video also shows a mostly covered up or face-blurred Lieutenant Ihasanullah, who remains at the left side of Khan throughout the video. Ihasanullah, who claims to be the son of Safiullah Khadem from the Sarobi district in Kabul province, says that he has been in the Afghan army for almost nine years. Ihasanullah states that he helped Khan because he believed Khan was “ghazi,” adding that every Afghan soldier at Kandahar Airfield also believed Khan was “ghazi.”
On July 9, Khan opened fire on Slovak troops at Kandahar Airfield, ultimately killing one Slovak soldier and injuring six others. Khan was quickly detained following the shootout and sent to solitary confinement at the base. Lieutenant Ihasanullah helped him escape from custody five days later by taking him to a medical clinic on the base, where he unshackled Khan and both men made their escape.
In the video, Khan admits that during his limited time in custody he was questioned by General Abdur Raziq Sherzai, a commander of the Afghan National Army’s 20th Atal Corps. Raziq Sherzai is the brother of Gul Agha Sherzai, who was formerly governor of Kandahar province and is currently the governor of Nangarhar province. Khan offers few details about the exchange he had with Raziq Sherzai.
Both Khan and Ihasanullah are seen pledging their allegiance to the Taliban, and toward the end of the video, Ihasanullah plucks a desk-sized Taliban flag off the nearby podium and declares he will continue to serve the Taliban and help the Taliban movement hoist its flag above Kabul once again.
Insider attacks a key part of Taliban strategy
The Taliban claim to have stepped up their efforts to infiltrate Afghan security forces as well as “lure” and encourage Afghan security personnel to attack ISAF troops and advisers.
In October 2012, Taliban emir Mullah Omar released an Eid al-Adha message that urged followers to “[i]increase Increase your efforts to expand the area of infiltration in the ranks of the enemy and to bring about better order and array in the work.” The statement continued: “We call on the Afghans who still stand with the stooge regime to turn to full-fledged cooperation with their Mujahid people like courageous persons in order to protect national interests and to complete independence of the country. Jihadic activities inside the circle of the State militias are the most effective stratagem. Its dimension will see further expansion, organization and efficiency if God willing.”
Omar had previously addressed the issue of green-on-blue attacks at length in a statement released on Aug. 16, 2012. Omar claimed that the Taliban “cleverly infiltrated in the ranks of the enemy according to the plan given to them last year,” and urged government officials and security personnel to defect and join the Taliban as a matter of religious duty. He also noted that the Taliban have created the “Call and Guidance, Luring and Integration” department, “with branches … now operational all over the country,” to encourage defections. [See Threat Matrix report, Mullah Omar addresses green-on-blue attacks.]
At the end of April, the Taliban announced that green-on-blue attacks would be a key part of this year’s strategy.
“This year’s spring operation, in accordance with its combat nature, will consist of special military tactics quantity and quality wise while successful insider attacks, to eliminate foreign invaders, will be carried out by infiltrating Mujahideen inside enemy bases in a systematic and coordinated manner,” the Taliban announced on April 27.
There have been eight such attacks reported in Afghanistan so far this year, which is well off the pace from the 44 green-on-blue attacks recorded in 2012. The reduction in attacks may be attributed to the less-frequent partnering between ISAF personnel and Afghan troops as the Coalition draws down forces, as well as greater security measures implemented by ISAF. [See LWJ special report, Green-on-blue attacks in Afghanistan: the data.]