WASHINGTON — A recent Taliban propaganda video uploaded to the group’s official media site appears to show Taliban fighters mimicking the style and tactics of American commandos.
The video, titled “Caravan of Heroes 13,” was posted to the group’s propaganda outlet called Voice of Jihad on Thursday.
The 70-minute-plus video covers various Taliban tactics from assaults and ambushes, to emplacing roadside bombs.
However, the first 10 minutes of the video features shots of Taliban fighters brandishing American weapons, optics and tactical apparel.
It’s not typical for Taliban propaganda videos, which often display the infamous Taliban black and white turbans and fighters with long beards brandishing Russian weapons and machine guns.
“The Taliban want to show their supporters and potential recruits that they are a professional force capable of defeating the Afghan government and the coalition,” said Bill Roggio, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.
“The Taliban has touted its “special forces” in the past, in previous videos, however this video definitely kicks it up a notch,” he added.
In one photo, several Taliban fighters appear to be conducting a patrol. One of the fighters is carrying a tactical medical bag, surgical scissors, tactical apparel and helmet. Some of the fighters have drop holsters.
Furthermore, the tactical camouflage uniforms feature bloused trousers, brown boots and even unit patches on the sleeves, similar to today’s Western military and Afghan special forces units.
The video is designed to appeal to two audiences — potential Western recruits and local Afghans and Pakistanis, according to Roggio.
It was produced in English and Pashtu by Manba al Jihad Studio — a media arm of the Haqqani network, Roggio said. The Haqqanis are an internationally designated terrorist group with close ties to the Taliban and al-Qaida.
“The Haqqanis have made open calls for foreign recruits to join the ranks,” Roggio said.
The video provides an interesting look into the inner workings of the Taliban and its propaganda efforts. In previous videos, the Taliban has attempted to mimic Islamic State propaganda by filming attacks with commercially available quadcopter drones. But this video seems to take things to a whole new level.
“I have not seen the Islamic State issue propaganda like this,” said Roggio. “The Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan has issued videos similar to this, but not to the degree we’ve seen in ‘Caravan of Heroes 13,’ ” he said.
Shawn Snow is the senior reporter for Marine Corps Times and a Marine Corps veteran.