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Afghan insurgents post propaganda videos on latest attacks

By Ali Safi and Jonathan S. Landay, McClatchy Newspapers –

KABUL, Afghanistan — Videos and pictures that the Taliban have posted online purportedly show the insurgents who staged this week’s attacks in Kabul and three provinces, with two fighters declaring that the suicide missions were to avenge the inadvertent burning of Qurans and the alleged massacre of villagers by U.S. troops. The material is highly stylized, perhaps indicating that the operations were more for propaganda purposes than military gain.

“We will take revenge for the holy Quran from non-Muslims. They have burned our holy Quran. We will take revenge for the same holy Quran, and also we will take revenge for those children and women that they killed in Kandahar a few days ago,” a teenage fighter dressed in a white Islamic burial outfit said in poor English on one video.

Insurgents entered supposedly tightly guarded Kabul and three provincial centers undetected Sunday and fired from buildings on government and foreign installations, including the U.S. Embassy, sparking gun battles with Afghan security forces. Two of the clashes lasted about 18 hours.

The posting of the videos and pictures on the Taliban’s official website and on YouTube late Wednesday supported the view that there were cooperation and coordination between the group and the Haqqani network, the Pakistan-based extremist organization that U.S. and Afghan officials have accused of staging the strikes.

“The Haqqani network operates independently, but works under the umbrella of the Taliban,” said Wahid Muzhda, a former Taliban official and a political analyst. Muzhda said the attacks were part of a Taliban propaganda effort to gain recruits after suffering significant setbacks in southern Afghanistan.

The photographs and videos apparently were made while the insurgents were in training, showing them standing in military-style parades and marching in formation against a background of rugged mountains. The material’s authenticity couldn’t be verified.

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