Is this Taliban video of an “annihilated” U.S. base a fake?

Over the past couple of weeks there has been much discussion online of the Taliban’s Youtube channel: Istiqlalmedia. The greatest amount of content on that site is, arguably, that generated by a mass of mostly hostile comments by YouTube users who in many cases would like to see the channel deleted. Right now, by any stretch, it is an utterly harmless channel that features a single video about reconstruction and love for Afghanistan. A far more prolific (allegedly/apparently) Taliban YouTube channel is that of The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, featuring much more of the kind of content that the YouTube users commenting above seem to have missed. The featured video on the latter channel is “US Base Annihilated in Afghanistan by the Taliban Mujahideen Oct. 2009,” shown below. I have tried repeatedly to post questions there, and far from getting an answer, the questions themselves are not being allowed to appear, while newer comments appear. My questions were simple ones: What is the exact date of the attack? Where did it occur? I was very suspicious of the fact that nowhere is there any other source that mentions the attack.

When you look more closely at this video, consider this:

  • Is the truck shown at the start, which supposedly contains the mega-bomb that destroys the base, the same as the one that later appears in the video, moving slowly through the village next to the base?
  • Is that a U.S. base? If so, how can one tell?
  • And seeing that the U.S. has at least on one occasion sent in jet fighters to bomb a base that had been vacated, could the explosion in fact be the result of a bomb dropped by a U.S. plane, and edited to produce the suggestion that it was a result of the supposed truck bomb? Maybe explosives experts or members of the U.S. Air Force who can recognize their own handiwork might have some insight.
  • Also, would a hovering U.S. helicopter allow an unknown truck to approach a base during a seemingly intense firefight, without firing on it?

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25 thoughts on “Is this Taliban video of an “annihilated” U.S. base a fake?

  1. I also note that everything on the “Islamic Emirate” channel page is in English, not a single word in Pashto. That’s interesting, because almost the opposite is true of Istiqlalmedia.

    I sense a “fly trap”: using these videos as sticky paper to see who the YouTube users are that cheer what is shown, and then ferreting through the networks that build around the video.

    In addition, such a video can serve a useful purpose: “we need more troops on the ground, we are being overrun.” I am not sure of that, because the video could also have the opposite effect: it’s all hopeless, let’s get out.

    Who is the Islamic Emirate on YouTube? There is some confusion here, as another YouTube page calls itself, “The Official Islamic Emirate of YouTube.” (Also see here for background on that.) There is one more “Islamic Emirate of YouTube” as well, related to the last. They also have a Facebook group, and a website. None of these appear, at first glance, to have anything to do with the Taliban or Afghanistan.

  2. […] Is this Taliban video of an “annihilated” U.S. base a fake? « ZERO ANTHROPOLOGY zeroanthropology.net/2009/10/25/is-this-taliban-video-of-an-annihilated-u-s-base-a-fake – view page – cached Over the past couple of weeks there has been much discussion online of the Taliban’s Youtube channel: Istiqlalmedia. The greatest amount of content on that site is, arguably, that generated by a… (Read more)Over the past couple of weeks there has been much discussion online of the Taliban’s Youtube channel: Istiqlalmedia. The greatest amount of content on that site is, arguably, that generated by a mass of mostly hostile comments by YouTube users who in many cases would like to see the channel deleted. (Read less) — From the page […]

  3. Things just do not add up here, especially when your points are brought up.
    Americans who do not understand the imperialist intentions of the war or who see a video such as this which contains no substantiated evidence can and would be easily fooled.

    You bring up very clear and to the point questions that have yet to be answered.

    I’ll stay tuned for more on this because as of right now I’m as confused and bewildered as anyone.

  4. Thanks, and it seems this isn’t the only time that we are shown such attacks, and nowhere are they mentioned in the media. “Manba ul-Jihad” appears to be the video unit for Taliban videos — and from what I see the logo appears crystal clear on their videos, except for the YouTube video discussed in the post above (which may not mean anything at all.)

    For a very similar attack in 2008, see:

    http://as-sahab.blog.com/2009/02/11/manba-ul-jihad-presentsmartyrdom-operation-by-qari-abu-umar/

    which states that:

    “This base was located in Domanda Village of Khost province and both U$ and Afghan National Army troops were stationed here. This was one of strongest bases Khost province which controlled 4 other nearby villages alongwith the Domanda Village.The Mujahideen of Islamic Emirate were eager to destroy this base. For this historic act, a Mujahid of Islamic Emirate Qari Abu Omar (ra) happily presented himself. On 20 Novemeber 2008 Thursday, He loaded a vehicle with 3000 Kgs explosives and carried out the martyrdom operation agaist the base. Resultantly 14 perssonel of murtad ANA, and 26 Officers and Soldiers of U$ army were killed. Similarly all the barraks, and instruments of the base were destroyed in this single attack. Verily the history will write the sacrifices of these martyres with golden letters.”

    Now the only media report I can find of any attack in Domanda, Khost, in 2008, is this one: http://www.samaylive.com/news/nato-soldier-among-19-killed-in-afghan-violence/632679.html There is no mention of any attack on a base, a truck bomb, etc.

    A surviving copy of the video referenced in the paragraph above is at:

    http://www.zshare.net/video/5539833787672ef9/

  5. Max:

    There are multiple lapses and dislocations in the quality, texture, audio, and cinematography of this piece. This raw montage is designed for duping audiences in South Asia. The crudeness with which this propaganda is produced reflects the desperation and dark-minded stupidity of the fascist ruling machinery of USA, the United States of Aesrael.

    The setting, the extensive public compound, and the complexes of domestic spaces, are unusual for Afghanistan. Free standing or attached round towers, especially with metal covered roofs, will not be found in Afghanistan. The corrugated iron and gabled roofs and the overall industrial quality of the architecture in these public buildings are highly unusual for the country. Also unusual is the close proximity between constructed private and public (government) spaces as seen in these images. The physical setting is likely to be somewhere in northern Iraq. The explosion is probably created by an aerial bomb dropped on a government complex somewhere in northern Iraq.

    The audio consists of at least two Paxtu dialects and Arabic spoken by a native speaker (starting at 2:15 minutes and 7:13 minutes) not by a Paxtu speaker. The deep Paxtu voice-over (starting at 7:37 minutes) is distinctly eastern Paxtu while the previous chorus and fragments of sentences are western. The eastern Paxtu voice very closely resembles that of the expatriate Afghan with initials FT, owner, moderator, and host of a radio program during the 1990s called “Payam-e Afghan” (Afghan Message or Voice) out of Los Angeles. The admonition and demeaning characterization of the resistance in this voice-over is consistent with FT’s known secularist political views. After the American invasion FT started a number of “development” and social projects in southern Afghanistan and Kabul. His brother, Omar Khetab, currently runs a TV program about Afghan affairs somewhere in southern California.

  6. I recall doing a search for other articles after seeing this video and assumed it was somehow connected to what they call the Battle of Kamdesh on October 3, Wikipedia. The video was posted October 6. However, that’s just the direction I went after watching the video, by no means logical. Although, if it IS a fake, you’d think they’d be smart enough to connect it, at least remotely, to an actual event. Here is the exact CNN video that I arrived at after watching the video. It even discusses some kind of fire at the base that caused significant smoke, but no truck. Before the troops abandoned the base, they destroyed the remaining buildings (link).

    How to tell if it’s a US base? The one for Oct. 3 says that Keating in Kamdesh was destroyed. I guess if it was supposed to be connected to that one it would look somewhat similar to these 360 views of the outpost now destroyed: link. Another video here. From the angles, it’s difficult to tell. Another video here but only w/simulated graphics.

    Honestly, I have no clue.

  7. Dear Jamil,

    First, my apologies for the long delay in approving the comment, I had left comment moderation on.

    Second, thanks very much for these invaluable notes — clearly, I could not have undertaken the same analysis, especially where linguistic issues are concerned.

  8. Thanks very much Stacie,

    I have seen photos and videos of that base in Kamdesh — Camp Keating was the name of the actual base I believe — and it was rather small and embedded at the bottom of a very tight valley with just enough space for the base and a river going alongside it. Mountains rise high and fast almost from the very edges of the base. So I don’t think this could have been Keating, and of course all the other details you provided also confirm that.

    Also, thanks for the video links! I will be adding some of those videos to the collection.

  9. I should note also that a NATO spokesman in Kabul says he generally agrees with the analysis, and cannot confirm the authenticity of the video.

    That leaves us with some persistent questions: Why produce a fake video such as this? As a marketing gimmick, to attract support from potential foreign donors to the Taliban? As a morale-booster? Or, if what is being faked is the Taliban origin of the video, then what is the aim? Is it a “homeland security” trap to see who may be dumb enough to cheer the video? Is it an attempt to crack into a possible Taliban network within YouTube?

    Whatever the case may be, the answers do not seem to be provided within the video itself.

  10. For what it’s worth (as a two-time vet of Iraq but not having been to Afghanistan)…

    Is the truck shown at the start, which supposedly contains the mega-bomb that destroys the base, the same as the one that later appears in the video, moving slowly through the village next to the base? It certainly could be. While that blast looks tremendous, a car or truck can easily be loaded with enough explosives to give that kind of signature, having seen a couple up close and personal.

    Is that a U.S. base? If so, how can one tell? Probably not. U.S. bases generally don’t fly flags and there would be a more significant “antenna” signature for a U.S. base. As Dr. Hanifi noted above, you’d be very unlikely to find a U.S. base tucked in that close to the surrounding populace, except in highly urbanized terrain. More likely that it is a Afghan Army outpost, built with some support from U.S. forces (HESCOs, pre-fab towers, etc.).

    And seeing that the U.S. has at least on one occasion sent in jet fighters to bomb a base that had been vacated, could the explosion in fact be the result of a bomb dropped by a U.S. plane, and edited to produce the suggestion that it was a result of the supposed truck bomb? Maybe explosives experts or members of the U.S. Air Force who can recognize their own handiwork might have some insight. Again, it could be. Further, even if it was actually a truck bomb, it is possible that the truck bomb struck at some time after the attack shown earlier in the video.

    Also, would a hovering U.S. helicopter allow an unknown truck to approach a base during a seemingly intense firefight, without firing on it? See question above. Doubtful, but it is hard to tell from the video if the attack, helo, and truck bombing actually occurred contemporaneously. And it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve seen a video that mish-mashed several events together to tell a story. In fact, I saw an interesting one in Mosul that was of an “attack” on what was an abandoned police compound that included video of a previous attack when the compound was occupied.

    As to location, it doesn’t look like northern Iraq to me – at least not the parts not controlled by the peshmerga, but again, having not been to Afghanistan, I can’t say with any certainty that it does or doesn’t look like any place there.

  11. Good points Eric, many thanks for your thoughts and notes on this. I really wish that the person or persons who host this on YouTube would speak up about it, rather than continuing what they are currently doing: playing mute.

  12. taliban said attack in 2009 not in noorstan provience taliban said attack killed dozen of american approximatlry 80-90 american soldier from taliban website.and the video realesed after kamdissh attack two or onr day and how taliban make full movie and send after one day it is not kamdish attack

  13. No one is aware of the Taliban having said anything like this, anywhere. The problem here is that the video seems to be a complete fake, as is the YouTube channel on which it is posted. There is still no indication of either the place or the date of this supposed attack.

  14. This attack has been indeed reported only you haven’t found it its so embarrassing to read that this could have happen in Northern iraq which is mostly desertlike to the north :

    JULY 4th 2009 , ZIRUK , PAKTIKA PROVINCE

    The attack began as Haqqani Network fighters launched rockets and mortars at a small US base in the Zarok district in Paktika province. As the rockets and mortars were fired, a suicide bomber attempted to ram a truck packed with explosives into the combat outpost, but soldiers shot and killed the driver before he could penetrate the base. The attackers also fired assault rifles and machine guns during the assault.

    Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban in eastern Afghanistan, took credit for the attack. Mujahid claimed that more than 8,000 kg of explosives were used in the attack.
    Today’s attack was carried out by members of the Haqqani Network under the command of Mullah Sangeen Zadran.

    Read more: http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2009/07/us_forces_repel_tali.php#ixzz0Yp9h1cRw

  15. This makes no sense at all.

    First of all, the report you link to…says the U.S. REPELLED the attack, not that their whole base was annihilated and demolished.

    Second, your date above is July 4, 2009…but those who uploaded the video say the attack took place in early October, 2009.

    Sorry, but you have not proven that this video is anything other than a fake.

  16. Listen , its up to you if you believe our beloved American mass propaganda which tells people that iraq is full of weapons of mass destruction and saddam is leader of alqaeda in iraq or you believe in what you can see , and so far what we can see that the Apache has no more ammo or fuel so it flew away during the battle ,this is the turning point when the truck approaches the forward base , further you can see that a Large part of the base is beeing destroyed after the explosion , we dont know if there are casualties !!! What you can also see smoke rising which indicatest that mortars were fired on the outpost.

    NATO claimed that in Noristan during a battle in Summer 2009 non of their soldiers nor their vehicles or helicopters were downed but on the same day taliban insurgents released a footage which showed an Chinook which was shot down by stinger or a rocket porpelled grenade.

  17. …none of which proves that this particular video is authentic, and that is even if one agrees with your particular selection of circumstantial evidence pertaining to unrelated events. You can fill in the gaps with imagination and speculation — verification is a little more precise, and demanding, than that.

  18. ok all people who are interested in this video, listen up!!! i was at this base during this attack, it is COP zerok in the east Paktika province, IN AFGHANISTAN . this attack took place on the 4th of july 2009. the major explosion you all see at the end is an actual VBIED (truck bomb). blast analisists later said it was the largest VBIED on record for afghanistan, registering at aprox 5000lbs. also of intersting note this video was HIGHLY edited I.E. the VBIED was the start of the attack, and the entire attack took about 3-4 hours from start to finish.

  19. Hello Mr. Westfall,

    Then do you not find it odd that absolutely no media anywhere reported this? More than that, is it not even more surprising that anyone could have survived such an explosion, especially anyone in the base?

    How is it that you were at this base?

  20. Max,

    Don’t know why, but your video link doesn’t work now, so I cannot watch, evaluate, or comment on this topic.

    Bob

  21. I can’t help you here. YouTube has removed it. Too bad, because if anything YouTube is giving the video greater credibility than it ever deserved. I, as always, downloaded multiple copies. Unfortunately, I am not willing to pay WordPress even more, to allow me to host videos on rare occasions such as these.

  22. Ok first this was an attack in the zerok district in the paktika province of Afghanistan on July 4 2009 and two us soldiers valorously gave their lives to defend the base and save numerous fellow soldiers lives. It happened a little different order then the video due to the fact it was a Taliban propaganda video but the events did in fact happen. If you want more information google Cop Zerok I’m sure u will see a link to the divids website which there is a special report on the July 4 attack produced by an air force reporter. Thanks

  23. that was COP Zerok, 04 July 2009 and it did alot of damage, but as i am here now writing this no it did not destroy our base and no it did not kill any one.

  24. Joe, since that video was taken off YouTube (idiotic censorship that results in our having only one side of the story), you could not have seen that utter demolition shown–a massive bomb, producing a kind of mushroom cloud rising in the sky, and shockwaves that rolled right up to the mountains. There was nothing left. Your COP Zerok is also on video, and it is a different set of action altogether–without any evidence of a truck bomber running a suicide mission. Indeed, since YouTube thinks that Defense Department videos are somehow “better” and more deserving of rights than Taleban videos, the attack on COP Zerok can be seen here:

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