The “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,” the official name of the Taliban, released a video that showcases its operations and a training camp in the remote northeastern province of Kunar.
The “Multimedia Branch of Islamic Emirate’s Cultural Commission” publicized the hour-long video today on Voice of Jihad, the group’s official website. Titled “Epic battles of Kunar,” the video features “footage of attacks by Mujahideen on enemy bases and check posts” and also shows “the head of Islamic Emirate for Kunar [sic] walking inside an overrun outpost,” according to the Taliban statement accompanying the release.
The Taliban identify the shadow governor of Kunar as Mawlawi Nur Qasim. Qasim replaced Noor Qasim Sabari, who was killed in a US airstrike in Kunar sometime in the late winter or early spring of 2014. [See LWJ report, Afghan Taliban confirms death of shadow governors for Kunar, Kandahar.]
It is unclear exactly where the Afghan security forces bases are that are shown in the video, or when the attacks took place. The Taliban have been active in several districts in Kunar province, most recently in the district of Dangam, which is situated on the border with Pakistan. Afghan officials have claimed that more than 1,000 fighters from the Afghan Taliban, the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, and Lashkar-e-Taiba have been involved in an assault on the district.
In addition to footage of the fighting in Kunar and other standard Taliban propaganda featured in the video (such as claims that Afghan and US forces have been indiscriminately killing civilians), the jihadist group also released video from a training camp in the province. The camp is named after Khalid bin Waleed, a companion of the Prophet Mohammed and military general whose victories helped establish the first caliphate. The Taliban’s 2013 spring offensive was also named after Khalid bin Waleed. [See LWJ report, Taliban promise suicide assaults, ‘insider attacks’ in this year’s spring offensive.]
More than a dozen Taliban fighters are shown during training at the rudimentary camp; the trainees are shown marching, exercising, and firing their weapons. The activities are performed in an open field, indicating that the Taliban are not concerned with local security forces or Coalition aircraft.
The Khalid bin Waleed camp is the second training facility highlighted by the Taliban in the past two weeks. On Dec. 18, the Taliban released a video that showed fighters training in Faryab province. [See LWJ report, Taliban publicize training camp in northern Afghanistan.]
For years, the rugged, remote Afghan province of Kunar has served as a sanctuary for al Qaeda, the Lashkar-e-Taiba, and allied jihadist groups. The presence of al Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Taiba cells has been detected in the districts of Asmar, Asadabad, Dangam, Ghazibad, Marawana, Nari, Pech, Shaikal Shate, Sarkani, Shigal, and Watahpur; or 11 of Kunar’s 15 districts, according to press releases issued by the now-disbanded International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF, that have been compiled by The Long War Journal. Numberous al Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Taiba leaders have been killed in ISAF raids. [See LWJ report, ISAF raids against al Qaeda and allies in Afghanistan 2007-2013.]
ISAF stopped issuing press releases on its operations against the Taliban, al Qaeda, and other terrorist groups, such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, as of June 27, 2013. But local reporting from Afghanistan indicates that all of these groups remain active inside Afghanistan, including in Kunar.