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'New generation' of tech-savvy Taliban fighters

Published Jul 25, 2012 09:23am


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Security personnel display arms and ammunition recovered from militants. – AFP (File Photo)

KABUL: Once seen as uneducated thugs, the Taliban are producing dangerous new fighters who use the latest digital technology to plan and publicise attacks against Nato and Afghan forces, analysts say.

The militants recently released a video of a June 1 attack on a US military base in the eastern province of Khost, on the border with Pakistan, showcasing far more developed techniques to plan the assault than previously thought.

The footage shows the fighters, in military uniforms, being briefed by their commander using a model and satellite images of the target, Forward Operating Base Salerno.

“First we do this operation for God's sake, second may God accept this (attack) as revenge for the burning of the Quran in Bagram,” the commander tells the fighters.

“We will do our best to avoid civilian casualties,” he says after he explains to his men how they should enter the camp.

A huge truck bomb is seen destroying the entrance to the facility, before an assault force enters the base to carry out the second phase of the attack - wearing US military uniforms, according to the US-based company IntelCenter.

The blast and fighting that followed were filmed from at least three angles, showing the militants' multiple observation points - and their desire to produce a slick video afterwards for propaganda purposes.

Analysts say such organised and complex attacks generate more publicity, require fewer fighters and give the insurgents the appearance of being stronger than they may actually be.

“Maybe in some cases they only want the media impact. On other occasions, we say to ourselves that it looks really serious. These videos show that they have real skills and technical knowledge,” a Western official told AFP.

The film of the Khost attack was first obtained by Al-Jazeera but later posted on the Taliban's Voice of Jihad website.

“Far from showing a Taliban force weakened and on the ropes, the video is a clear reminder that the Taliban maintains the ability to prepare and execute large-scale attacks,” wrote IntelCenter, which monitors jihadist websites.

When the Taliban ruled Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001, almost all electronic products were outlawed as un-Islamic. Photographs of living things were illegal, and ownership of a video player could lead to a public lashing.

But now technology plays an essential role in the militants' reshaped strategy, with carefully-planned surprise attacks in places that previously were spared heavy assaults, said analyst Waheed Wafa.

“Five years ago, for instance, the Taliban would attack in hundreds, mostly in remote towns. But now, 10 fighters can do an even better job in sophisticated attacks in big cities,” he said.

“The Taliban also want to show that they are very clean, organised and high-tech, and that comes whenever a party in conflict feels that it has a chance to come back to power.”

Afghan writer and analyst Waheed Mujda, a former official in the Taliban regime, added: “It is a new generation of Taliban, they are very high-tech and that is because they face a high-tech army as their enemy.

“They use GPS, they use Google Maps, they use cameras and almost every digital age technology. They can inflict more casualties on their enemy if their attacks are well planned.”

Nato's US-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and the Afghan interior ministry dismissed the video as a propaganda stunt.

It is “simply an attempt by the insurgents to sensationalise this action,” ISAF spokesman Brigadier General Guenter Katz told AFP.

“What this video really shows is the insurgents' selfish efforts to recruit and propagandise more young men to needlessly die for a failed cause.”

An ISAF spokesman said one US soldier and an Afghan civilian working on the base were killed in the attack, more than 10 American soldiers were seriously wounded and about 115 were slightly hurt.

Two buildings were damaged, including the dining room, and 14 insurgents were killed.

Interior ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi dismissed the video as propaganda and said it would not demoralise ordinary Afghans.

But he told AFP: “It also raises questions where they got all that training and how they obtained about 10 tonnes of explosives.”


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Comments (23) Closed

sheikhniyazs Jul 25, 2012 02:46pm
your western army has done all the crimes in afghanistan, which nazi committed in ww. you did carpet bombing, you raised gauntanamo camps, you killed civilians, raped women, injured and killed children, took body parts as gifts, urinated on bodies of your enemy fighters, burnt noble quran, forced people to convert, drone attacks and you are saying why afghan mujahideen taliban r doing suicide attacks against your civilised army, and why they say God is great. Go in Mammas kitchen my friend and think that you are a humanistic, civilsed society. to us your army is nothing but barbaric savages. Reap what you sow
mohsin Jul 26, 2012 09:20am
^^ I am a pakistani and a muslim unfortunately sir you are really misinformed if you think that just by your saying it, you can label those horrible people as not being muslim. whoever shouts Allah u Akbar ? and bids farewell by saying assalamu alikum? not jews definitely. Just acknowledge the fact that Islam is being twisted and used by these organizations to recruit and brainwash some people to further the organization's demonic plans. Forget negative your comments arent even worthy of being given a rating.
Ela Domichivic Jul 27, 2012 05:45am
The US forces are doing the same in most parts of the world but we label it as "war against terror". Isn't that sick too. The illusion of weapons of mass destruction, terrorist drone strikes in Pakistan and killing of innocent men, women and children is a step ahead of what the Taliban are doing.
Ammar Jul 25, 2012 11:42am
'and give the insurgents the appearance of being stronger than they may actually be' What about the outlanders?
Saad (DXB) Jul 25, 2012 12:57pm
There is no 'Version' of Islam. These are terrorists and hence not Muslims.
Eddied Jul 25, 2012 12:21pm
I saw the video on al jazeera and was shocked when the driver of the truck bomb left to commit suicide and his last recorded words to his colleagues before he killed himself and others were " as Salam al laycum" ( peace be upon you) how completely sick and twisted is his version of religion? Then later in the video as the bomb goes off and Taliban forces move in to kill anyone they see, everyone is yelling Allah u Akbar ( god is greatest)...In the west we cannot understand this level of fanaticism were some people believe killing other people is what God wants...
Lateef Jul 25, 2012 04:49pm
Looks like you think that US and NATO forces are on a picnic in Afghanistan. No, they have waged a war against an independent country. If they kill 100 then their 10 soldiers will also be killed. So why you are shocked when you see Muslims killing occupying force?
Lateef Jul 25, 2012 04:51pm
If a militia is undefeated after 10 years of fighting with US and NATO then of course they are using scientific methods. So what is the reason of this headline and this article?
sheikhniyazs Jul 25, 2012 04:56pm
ndawnnews is nothing but mouth piececorgan of us and israel.
ali Jul 25, 2012 05:59pm
If they are using GPS and other technology they should be easier to spot by Drones. Where are Drones then you need em?
T Ahmed Jul 25, 2012 08:01pm
What is Dawn thinking it is accomplishing by glorifying those who know only how to kill and destroy what they can on the pretext of pleasing God?
ali Jul 25, 2012 08:14pm
You will understand their "fanaticism" when some other country invades yours and kills hundreds of thousands of innocent civilian men, women and children and destroy the livlihood of millions making them homeless and refugees in their own country!!!!!.
anony Jul 25, 2012 08:20pm
Ever thought about focussing on the US and Coalition forces killign and bombing innocent civilians and then state 'they shouldn't have been there' and 'collateral damage'? NATO is considered as an invasion force in this war. Almost all the US soldiers are christians, including the ones that have deliberately AND non-deliberately killed civilians. Should we label christianity as twisted as well?
Asif Jul 25, 2012 08:52pm
LOL. Another man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. US have invaded Afghanistan on the pretext to hunt OBL and killed thousands of innocent Afghans, so the taliban are fighting back. Its a just cause to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan. Once they leave. No one will die.
Syed Jul 25, 2012 09:28pm
$330 million just from drug money every year, talibans has to spend it somewhere, so they are "upgrading" , and there are many arms dealers who are willing to help cause there is no such business than the war business !!! no wonder when they attack, they roll over like bulldozers, anyone noticed russian and american made rocket launchers they carry? Mr. Eddied, Allah is great and He will make sure they burn in the deepest pits of hell for killing innocent and in the name of religion.
ayub Jul 25, 2012 10:03pm
DO NOT call them Muslim, in Islam suiside is NOT allowed (haram), and killing innocent ppl is even worse. Those are crazy ,
Saad (DXB) Jul 25, 2012 10:29pm
I can see that the Indians are flocking by the dozens to DAWN to read the news that makes sense and is not dripping in the Bollywood styled sensationalism. Hence, the negative ratings to my earlier comment. I know for a fact that no Muslim or a Pakistani would find my comment worthy of a negative rating
Tariq K Sami Jul 25, 2012 11:28pm
What is the point in the story. What is USA trying to prove. These are important questions too. Most likely they, the USA cannot stand by Karzai for ever. Now some cheaper options may be more effective. Invite the Taliban for a tour of the Smithsonian or the National Park and give them a nice treat of curly fries and roast beef at Arby's (costs less than 6$ in most places) if you take the Combo you will get a Coke for free and you even supersize it. That's the guys. That's how you talk peace and progress.
Guest Jul 26, 2012 12:07am
This level of fanaticism exists in the west as well ,although not as widely publicized because there is no war going on there. Go back several hundred years to crusades - those were fanatics too, with all the vioent merciless killing done in the name of the Christian God.
hussain Jul 26, 2012 02:51am
......... when have been violated and having nothing to defend yourself .....then you have yourself, your own body as last resort...... un warranted killing is outlawed in islam............but so is unprovoked aggression self defense is totally allowed in islam
Dip Jul 26, 2012 03:14am
One wonders who trains them to use these sophisticated weapons?
Ahmed Jul 26, 2012 05:29am
USA attacked Afghanistan and now they expect Afghanis not to retaliate...Wake up America!! every action has an equal and opposite reaction.
Faisal Jul 26, 2012 06:48am
How can anyone call a bunch of old soviet style weaponry sophisticated? Afghanistan and Pakistan's tribal belt is awashed with these weapons and people with the know how to use them, and they don't need much training anyways.