It’s not exactly Seal Team 6 rehearsing the raid on Abbottabad, but a video released by the Haqqani network offers a window onto what is purported to be one of the militant group’s training camps.
The network is considered the most dangerous insurgent force fighting U.S. troops in eastern Afghanistan, launching attacks from its base in Pakistan’s tribal areas. U.S. officials have long suspected the group gets support from Pakistan’s intelligence agency.
It is rare to get a glimpse of the network’s operations.
Judging by the newly released footage, the camps are anything but state of the art. The video shows several dozen militants wearing helmets and green masks making their way through a rudimentary obstacle course.
They scamper across a makeshift ladder. They take turns leaping over a campfire-sized flame. They slip off the seat of a motorcycle to squeeze a few rounds from an AK-47. They study maneuvers drawn on a white-board with marker.
In one sequence, the fledgling fighters wrap themselves in branches, looking like a formation of shrubs, as they practice camouflaged approaches across a dusty field.
The video, which was released by the Site Intelligence Group, makes clear that the Haqqanis’ facilities and equipment are basic at best. But the network’s potency has always had far more to do with its lethal determination and ability to blend into the Pashtu population than with any high-tech training or gear.
Indeed, the video was presented by the Haqqani network’s media wing as a glimpse into the preparations of the fighters who carried out the raid on the Inter-Continental Hotel in Kabul last June.
One question the video raises is how so many militants could train in broad daylight and wide open terrain – apparently along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border – without attracting the attention of U.S. military aircraft or a CIA drone.
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