In what Afghanistan officials fear represents a new phase in the Taliban war against the government there, the hard-line fundamentalist terror group on Friday released shocking footage of a suicide attack — taken from a drone. Until the release of the video, the Taliban were thought to be adverse to using advanced technology and video techniques, lagging well behind their rival terrorist organizations, such as the tech-savvy ISIS.
The video could also be evidence of collaboration between the Taliban and Pakistan, officials said.
A two-and-a-half minute excerpt from the video originally posted on jihadi websites can be viewed above. Be warned — the content of the video may be disturbing. The full video, which runs about 23 minutes, can be viewed below on this page.
“This is naturally a very big issue,” Afghan Member of Parliament Ali Akbar Qasim told the United States military newspaper Stars and Stripes. “It’s the first time I’ve heard of the Taliban using a drone camera to film their attack. Such videos will likely help the Taliban with their propaganda.”
A spokesperson for the provincial government of Helmand province, where the attack shown in the video reportedly took place, confirmed that the footage appeared to the the real thing, adding that the technological sophistication of the production indicated that it was produced “with the help of foreign intelligence.”
According to the Stars and Stripes report, the unnamed spokesperson would have been referring to the Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence agency.
#Afghanistan – Conflicting media messages. #Kunduz won/lost? Helmland continuing to fall to Taliban? . https://t.co/r5tEFLSInE pic.twitter.com/aiYWxkFEns
— Tony McK ||⭐|| (@oakroyd) October 4, 2016
The bombing shown in the video appears to be the suicide attack against a Helmand police headquarters that took place on October 3, according to a Reuters report. The bombing killed a local police chief and several others at the police station in Nawa, a district in Helmand Province, which was taken over by the Taliban in early October, though Afghan security forces retook several key government buildings by October 4.
In the full video, a man identified as the suicide bomber speaks to the camera before getting into the driver’s seat of a Humvee — a vehicle apparently provided to the Afghan military by the United States, then seized by the Taliban in the ongoing fighting.
“This is the happiest moment of my life,” the man says, according to the Reuters translation. “I am telling the Afghan stooge forces to repent and join the Taliban or we will use this equipment the foreigners gave them, against them and they can’t do anything about it.”
The video then switches to aerial footage apparently taken by a drone, showing the Humvee driving into the security complex with no visible opposition, then blowing up in a massive fireball with clouds of smoke that reach into the sky and envelop the drone camera itself.
Fighting in Helmand Province in the south of Afghanistan has been intense. Earlier this month, Taliban fighters surrounded about 100 Afghan troops and police officers there, pretending to grant them safe passage — then gunning all 100 down as they walked into the open.
An American soldier was killed by a roadside bomb in Helmand Province in August.
Though Afghanistan has not come up much as an issue in the current U.S. presidential campaign, and the fight against ISIS has been a major topic of contention, 86 Americans have been killed in the Afghanistan conflict since the beginning of 2014. That’s almost 10 times as many as the nine killed by ISIS in Iraq and Syria combined.