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Inside the Ring
The Open Source Center, part of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, produced the report on the video, which was based on the Oct. 3 battle in a remote area of eastern Afghanistan that resulted in the deaths of eight U.S. soldiers. The deaths came despite advanced intelligence reports warning of an impending attack. It was the largest single number of U.S. casualties in Afghanistan since a similar attack in the same region last year.
The report, “Taliban Propaganda Video Capitalizes on ‘Capture’ of U.S. Base,” states that the Taliban video was put on an insurgent Web site Nov. 18 and “showcases what it describes as the ‘capture’ of a U.S. military base in the Kamdesh district of Nuristan Province.”
The video calls the attack a “message of success” and shows scenes of what appear to be the beginning of the raid by an estimated 200 insurgents, and the weapons and ammunition the Taliban claimed they captured. The video shows a battle with small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades launched on the U.S. forces from hills surrounding the base.
At one point, the video shows a bearded Taliban leader trying out an exercise machine used by the Army troops before their departure. In another scene, an insurgent fires a captured U.S. Army M4 carbine.
Intelligence reports obtained by The Washington Times reveal that U.S. forces had warning days before the attack that Taliban insurgents were planning to strike the outpost.
U.S. forces had made preparations to pull out of the remote combat outpost, known as COP Keating, when the attack took place.
“Intelligence reports that confirm specific enemy intentions do not require analysis or analysts. Fundamentally, the art therefore is to evaluate enemy indicators against friendly indicators to anticipate the most likely enemy course of action,” said a military officer in the region, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.
The officer said that though parts of the video appear to have been staged after the battle, “U.S. forces ultimately withdrew because of enemy pressure and action.”
The video also seeks to glorify what it says was the group’s triumphant march into the captured base and the symbolic burning of an American flag. It includes video of the Taliban leader in the region, identified as Sheik Dost Mohammad, making a tour of the area.
A copy of the Open Source Center report and the Taliban video were obtained by the Federation of American Scientists’ Project on Secrecy in Government. A link is posted at washingtontimes.com.
A military spokesman in Afghanistan could not be reached for comment on the report.
The video includes captions showing that the Taliban had at least two cameras to film the attack and footage of gunfire and smoke from burning buildings along with Taliban anti-aircraft fire at a helicopter.
The report says the Taliban fighters displayed “war booty” from the raid, including weapons and ammunition purportedly captured from what the video says were “invading crusaders.”
“Booty is an important part of the Taliban’s philosophy of [holy war], as seen by the dedication of an entire chapter of the Taliban Code of Conduct to the definition of, and rules for, the distribution of booty [Taliban Code of Conduct, Chapter 5, May],” the report says.
After reciting a verse from the Koran, the video announcers state, “This is a big American base in Kamdesh district, which was captured by the mujahedeen, with the help of God and as a result of continuous attacks by the brave mujahedeen.”
About the Author
Bill Gertz is geopolitics editor and a national security and investigative reporter for The Washington Times. He has been with The Times since 1985.
He is the author of six books, four of them national best-sellers. His latest book, “The Failure Factory,” on government bureaucracy and national security, was published in September 2008.
Mr. Gertz also writes a weekly column ...
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