(ISLAMABAD) — The Taliban has released a new video that offers a chilling play-by-play account of a deadly, coordinated attack on a large U.S. base that climaxed with an explosion so strong the shockwaves could be felt for miles away.
The hour-long video, released by the group’s propaganda wing, shows the entire attack, which took place last month, from its initial planning stages to the dramatic moment when a suicide bomber detonates a ten-ton bomb outside the gates of Camp Salerno, the third largest U.S. base in the country. The blast is captured from three cameras, each at different angles, while militants provide commentary in the background.
In addition to offering rare insight into the group’s planning for a large mission, the video also shows the Taliban’s increasingly sophisticated video production capabilities. The interviews are shot in a style that look more like something seen on an American reality TV show than the deserts of Afghanistan and the jihadi songs that play in the background feature digitally-altered vocals.
“Those who came here insulting Islam and the Koran, I will take revenge on them,” the Taliban’s suicide truck bomber says calmly to the camera. He is shown sitting in the driver’s seat of the flat bed truck just minutes before the attack, explosives already loaded. A bouquet of flowers sits on the windowsill.
“God willing, this will teach them a lesson that they will remember and will always be frightened by,” he says, the truck’s engine still running.
Moments later, the video — shot from a distance — shows the truck slowly driving up to the base, while an unidentified militant behind the camera invokes verses from the Koran. As the truck approaches the main gate, it explodes sending a massive, dark-grey mushroom cloud booming hundreds of feet into the sky. The next shot shows the rippling shockwaves travelling across the countryside in slow motion.
After the smoke clears, the now-grainy video shows ten Taliban fighters driving up to the base in a minivan. They exit the vehicle wearing military uniforms and body armor, their faces covered by black masks, and storm the base. The ensuing firefight is captured from a distance, seemingly unedited, with a heavy exchange of gunfire and helicopter gunships hovering overhead.
The Taliban claim twenty coalition troops were killed in the attack — numbers that NATO denies. While the footage does not show any specific casualties, it does show major damage to the base, including the crumpled roofs of nearby buildings, the sheer force of the explosion ripping them up from their bearings. The main target of the bomb, the dining hall, was completely flattened.
Initially, NATO did not report any casualties, but later admitted two American troops were killed and three dozen suffered serious wounds, while more than 100 others were treated for minor injuries.
“The propaganda video of the attack on Forward Operating Base Salerno June 1st is simply an attempt by the insurgents to sensationalize this action,” ISAF spokesperson Brig. Gen. Gunter Katz said. “While this attack achieved some limited initial success, the insurgents were quickly killed and there was no significant long-term interruption to the base’s operations. What this video really shows is the insurgents’ selfish efforts to recruit and propagandize more young men to needlessly die for a failed cause.”
Earlier in the video, many of the militants can be seen wearing U.S. army fatigues as they train in the mountains with rocket propelled grenades, mortars, and AK-47s. In a show of strength, the group’s commander practices firing from two AK-47s simultaneously, one in each hand. Later, he is seen briefing the militants on the mission. The briefing includes aerial photographs, plus a miniature mockup indicating the locations of the major targets inside the base.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Billy Hallowell, Deseret News
Steve Visser and Masoud Popalzai, CNN
Mohammed Tawfeeq, Joe Sterling and Susanna Capelouto, CNN
Chris Williams and Jason Hanna, CNN