Taliban special forces provide “security” at Kabul airport

Taliban social media accounts say the Badri 313 outfit is parked at Kabul airport.

Taliban-linked social media accounts claim that members of the Badri 313 group are providing “security” at Kabul International Airport. Badri 313 is a special forces wing of the Taliban army. He was responsible for some of the group’s key battlefield successes and also conducted complex “martyrdom” (suicide) operations.

Photos posted on Taliban-associated streams allegedly show Badri 313 units in and around Kabul airport. We don’t know how many men from the group are there. FDD Long War Diary did not independently confirm their presence.

The Haqqani Network, which plays an essential role in the political and military command structure of the Taliban, has long publicized the operations carried out by its special forces in the “Badri army”. The Haqqanis are, at a minimum, closely allied with al-Qaeda.

In February 2020, for example, Haqqani’s Manba Al Jihad media branch released a video titled “Badri Strike”. The production went live just weeks before the Trump administration struck a withdrawal deal with the Taliban in Doha.

“Badri Strike” contains excerpts from President Trump saying that “the American people are weary of war without victory”. Trump continued, “Nowhere is this more evident than with the war in Afghanistan, the longest war in American history, 17 years.” The producers of the video say America and its allies in Kabul have been defeated.

The narrator of the video states that while the United States once declared the Taliban to be “terrorists,” it was forced to negotiate with the jihadists. The talks are described as a clear victory for the Islamic Taliban Emirate, which the narrator presents as an example for other Muslim groups around the world. The production also places the imminent return of the Taliban Islamic Emirate against the backdrop of the Muslims’ quest to restore an Islamic Caliphate to power. In other words, the Taliban anticipated a complete victory in the months to come.

Ustadh Mohammad Yasir, as seen in “Badri Strike”, a video posted by the Haqqani Network in February 2020.

A key ideologue featured in “Badri Strike” is Ustadh Mohammad Yasir, a figure in the Taliban-Al-Qaeda double hat. Yasir is said to have died in 2012 under somewhat murky circumstances. He had been arrested by Pakistani forces several years earlier. Yasir was a key ideologue for Al Qaeda’s recruiting efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Yasir has appeared in Al Qaeda media, most notably in an interview with As Sahab. Ayman al-Zawahiri paid tribute to Yasir in a speech published on the 18th anniversary of the September 11 attacks. Zawahiri recounted a meeting between Yasir and Bin Laden in the mountains of Tora Bora in late 2001, during which they discussed the 9/11 hijackings.

Yasir’s archival audio included in “Badri Strike” is therefore revealing. This shows that the Taliban’s special forces wing taps into the same ideological well as Al Qaeda. In the short clip, Yasir explains the supposed virtues of martyrdom.

“It is the blessing of your sacrifices, your blood and your martyrs,” Yasir says in the clip included in “Badri Strike”. Yasir continues: “The martyrs of every nation are like candles. He burns himself, but brightens the darkness, he burns himself, but enlightens others. Likewise, if your martyrs sacrificed and burned their lives (for Allah SWT), they also illuminated the house of Islam.

A large part of “Badri Strike” is devoted to glorifying the team of jihadists responsible for the November 2018 attack on a G4S complex in Kabul. G4S is a UK security and intelligence company. “Badri Strike” documents the meticulous planning and training that led to the complicated suicide operation. A team of Badri 313 commandos had previously received elite training in small arms. They infiltrated the compound after one of their comrades detonated a large vehicle bomb outside.

Badri 313 is now providing security outside Kabul airport, according to Taliban sources online.

Social media sites associated with the Taliban shared this photo of the Badri 313 in Kabul.

Taliban special forces background

Members and supporters of the Taliban often use Badri 313 interchangeably with other terms to identify the group’s “special forces”. The infamous “red unit” or “blood unit” is also part of the organization’s commandos. The Taliban used these elite formations as shock troops in their conquest of Afghanistan. The name Badri 313 is a tribute to the battle of Badr, during which the prophet Muhammad is said to have led 313 men to victory.

The Haqqani Network promoted its special forces units as early as November 2011, when it carried out an attack on the Continental Hotel in Kabul. Haqqani’s video, titled “The Army of Badr 1,” featured “hot and engaging images of the training, wills and operations of the mujahedin who participated in this martyrdom search.” Manba al Jihad, the propaganda arm of the Haqqani Network, produced the video.

In 2015, the Taliban released another “Army of Badr” video of their Salahadin Ayyubi camp. The footage also celebrated the commandos who carried out a complex suicide bombing against the headquarters of the Afghan National Directorate of Security in Ghazni in September 2014.

One of Manba al Jihad’s most detailed videos of Taliban special forces was released in June 2020, just three months after the Trump administration agreed to a withdrawal agreement with the Taliban. Sirajuddin Haqqani gave a recorded speech praising the graduates of his Al Fateh military camp. Al Fateh camp is a well-known training location for the Taliban special forces. In the video titled “Victorious Forces (1)”, Siraj and Mullah Yacub, Mullah Omar’s son, praised the fighters, their commitment and military prowess, while stressing their importance to the Taliban jihad. Siraj and Yacub are both deputy emirs in the Taliban hierarchy. Two of the units featured in the June 2020 video showed Taliban fighters wearing the distinct red bands of the “Blood Unit”.

In early April 2021, just weeks before the Taliban launched their blitz to take over the country, the Taliban released dozens of images. The photos presented “[h]mujahedin dead [holy warriors] and martyrdom seekers “who” graduated from the Khalid bin Waleed, Al-Fateh and Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddique military camps of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. The footage showed well-armed Taliban fighters equipped with his special forces at various stages of training.

Al-Qaeda previously managed a unit in Afghanistan and Pakistan known as Brigade 313. This unit, which was part of the Lashkar Zil or Al-Qaeda’s Shadow Army, was led by the notorious jihadist Ilyas Kashmiri. Pakistani and military commander of Al Qaeda.

The United States killed Kashmir in a drone strike in South Waziristan in the spring of 2011. The 313 Brigade was made up of elements of the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban, as well as allied jihadist groups such as Laskhar-e- Jhangvi, Harakat-ul- Jihad-al-Islami, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Jundallah and others. He formed the nucleus of what has become Al Qaeda in the Indian subcontinent. Kashmir had important ties with the Haqqani network. Before his death, he ran a training camp in Miramshah, North Waziristan, the Haqqani network’s base of operations in Pakistan.

Bill Roggio is Senior Fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and Editor-in-Chief of the FDD’s Long War Journal. Thomas Joscelyn is Senior Fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and Editor-in-Chief of the FDD Long War Journal.

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