Al-Qaeda Releases Video of Afghan Taliban Attack in Zabul
Al-Qaeda's media wing Al-Sahab has released a video documenting an attack launched by the Afghan Taliban against an Afghan army base in Zabul. The video, which was posted on jihadist websites on November 25, 2009, is labeled as part of a series called "The Holocaust of the Crusaders and the Apostates in Khurasan." This is apparently the first video in the planned series, since nothing by this name has been released in the past. Khurasan is the classical Arabic name for the Afghanistan region.
The attack in Zabul does not in itself appear to have been very significant; the point of this 8-minute video rather appears to be twofold. First, by releasing documentation of a Taliban attack through Al-Sahab, Al-Qaeda is trying to emphasize the connection between itself and the Taliban. This comes against the backdrop of speculation in the West as to a possible divergence of interests between Al-Qaeda and the its Afghan allies; Mullah Omar has also recently made statements that apparently put him at odds with at least a part of Al-Qaeda's agenda. Joint media productions are one way to dispel such notions. In recent months Al-Qaeda has released a number of statements by the Pakistani Taliban; joint productions with the Afghan Taliban are less common, though Al-Sahab did release an interview with Maulvi Sangin, the Taliban commander of Paktika Province, on September 1, 2009. In the new video, the film crew was apparently Arab and provides commentary in Arabic, often interlaced with the Pashtu speech of the Taliban.
Second, the video claims that the mujahideen halted their attack after the "apostates" (the Afghan soldiers) forced civilian vehicles to stop in front of the base in order to serve as a human shield. The point is to demonstrate the Taliban's purported care in distinguishing between military targets and the general Afghan populace.
Taliban fighters crossing a makeshift bridge on motorcycle
A different tactic is used to cross a wider river: the Taliban sit on a platform that slides along metal wires
The base in Zabul, filmed with a shaky camera
November 26, 2009