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Afghanistan - Militia Facilities

The Taliban army consisted of the Central Army Corps headquartered in Kabul [3431'N 6911'E], the 2d Army Corps headquartered at Kandahar [3137'N 6543'E], the 3d Army Corps in Paktia [3335'N 6935'E], and the 4th Army Corps at Herat [3420'N 6212'E], along with various other formations. Although derived from the Afghan army of previous regimes, many of these units existed in name only, and surely not in their original form. For the most part, while the military facilities of these major commands existed, they mainly served to support assorted militia groups.

The Harakat-ul-Mujahideen, was reportedly headquartered in Kabul in the Shahr-e-Nao [Shahr-e Now] quarter of the city [this location is obscure]. Other offices of Pakistani elements in Kabul were said to hvae been in the former diplomatic quarter of Wazir Akbar Khan, at the Ariana Hotel, and the former Cuban Embassy. Pakistani volunteers were said to be garrisoned at the former National Guard headquarters at Badam Bagh [this location is obscure] and at the former 8th Division headquarters at Qargah [possibly Karga 3432'57"N 6902'00"E]. The main forward base for some 500-800 of these fighters was said to be at Khanabad [this location is obscure, with half a dozen such place names], behind the front lines, with the Pakistani headquarters reportedly near the Parigul Mosque.

Foreign recruits were trained at the former 7th Infantry Division's military post at Rishkhor [3426'00"N 06908'00"E], 15 kilometers southwest of the center of Kabul and 5-7 kilometers from Kabul's southern suburbs. The camp, run by Harakat-ul-Mujahideen and Arabs loyal to Osama bin Laden, was located just half an hour from Kabul. The security of the camp was guarded through surrounding hills and posts established along the only road leading to the camp. The complex consisted of two compounds, one of which was a Taliban-run basic training facility for Afghan and Pakistani volunteers. The bin-Laden camp consisted of a dozen one-story buildings surrounded by a 10-foot-tall mud brick wall.

Rishkhor was the base of those Arab and Pakistani combatants who had arrived there to fight along side the Taliban. This "Special Training Center" reportedly trained from 1,000 to 1,500 recruits at a time, with a course of instruction lasting up to six weeks. Training included small arms and demolitions, and small unit leadership. Graduates from this program operated in platoon-sized units that were organized separately from other Afghan formations. In the early 1980s a livestock project was established at Rishkhor with a capacity of 500 cows which would produce 600 tons of milk annually and raise 4,000 cows and calves. One of the first attack by Afghan insurgents against a bivouac of Soviet troops occured at Rishkhor army base on 31 December 1979.

It is believed that the bin Laden organization operated from at least a dozen camps in Afghanistan, providing training in arms, explosives and logistics. The Beni Hissar compound in foothills in the outskirts of Kabul was used as a headquarters for bin Laden's foreign legion. It was reportedly run by a Sudanese named Abdul Aziz. His Harkat-ul-Jehad Al-Islami ran two camps called Badr I and Badr II. Another was built from scratch at Galrez, a town 30 miles west of Kabul [probably Jalrez at 3428'00"N 6838'00"E].

The Al-Badr II Camp was at Zhawar Kili [probably 3307'00"N 6954'00"E], about a dozen kilomenters south of the city Khost [3317'15"N 6955'43"E]. This camp, located about 150 kilometers from Kabul and within a few kilometers of the Pakistani border, included underground bunkers built during the war against the Soviets. Training of various groups has taken place at camps in this "Zhawa Complex" near Khost on the Pakistan border. In May 1998 Osama Bin Laden held a press conference at the Abu Jindal camp in Khost, known as the Arab camp, and announced the launching of his International Islamic Front for Jehad Against America and Israel.

Ikonos Images of Darunta Camp Complex
Click on the small image to view a larger version

The Al-Badr I base in Jalalabad [3425'00"N 7027'00"E] was about 100 kilometers east of Kabul. The Tora Bora base near Jalalabad was rebuilt on the site of a camp first constructed by the US Central Intelligence Agency in the early 1980s. Tora Bora -- the name means "black dust" -- was a fortified encampment variously reported as being 35 miles southwest or about 30 miles south of Jalalabad. Situated between two mountain ridges in the White Mountains, Tora Bora had a large network of tunnels and forts used by Afghan rebels during the war against the Soviets in the 1980's. It was described as being virtually invisible from above, and containing numerous rooms heated by electric power from mountain runoff water. According to one report, bin Ladin's "Abu Khabab" camp was focused on development and training with chemicals, poisons and other toxins. This camp was named after the Egyptian who runs it, Midhat Mursi - who uses the name Abu Khabab. The camp, about eight miles from Jalalabad, was part of a complex of training sites known as Darunta [3428'00"N 7022'00"E], after a nearby stone dam.

The Salman Farsi camp [also known as the Hazrat Amir Mawia camp] of the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen was located at Jawah, a few kilometers into Afghanistan from the Pakistani border post of Saidgai [there are many places with similar names, but there is no apparent match of these two names]. Two other Harkat-ul-Mujahideen camps are the Khalid Bin Waleed camp located near "Zhavar" [probably Zhawar at 3307'00"N 6954'00"E] and near the "Darwanta power station" [probably Darunta 3428'00"N 7022'00"E] near the city of Jalalabad [the name of this camp is not known]. A splinter group of the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen operates the Liza camp, located about 40 km from the main Harkat-ul-Mujahideen camps. The Jamiatul Mujahideen operated a camp which, like Harkat-ul-Mujahideen camps, is located about 5-20 km from the camps of Bin Laden.

Other training camps were said to include Bagh-e Daud [location obscure] and Shakar Darra [probably 3441'11"N 6900'45"E] near Kabul, Al-Farouk [location obscure] near the city Khost in Helmand Province, the Hadda Farm [location obscure] and the Gamberi Daug [3433'00"N 7025'00"E] close to Jalalabad in Nangarhar Province, Mazar-e Sharif [3642'00"N 6706'00"E] in Balkh Province and Ali Abad [probably at 3629'00"N 6854'00"E] near Konduz [3643'00"N 6852'00"E]. Additional training centers were said to be near the towns of Jarquduq [either at 3618'N 6528'E or at 3627'N 6555'E], Kandahar [3137'N 6543'E], Kemp-Sakhi, Kud-Barg, Marmol [3633'N 6719E] and Reeshkhore. Chechens and other foreign nationals reportedly received training in camps such as Kargha-1, about 12 km north of Kabul. Other camps on the Afghan border with Pakistan, at Khwaja Mastoon Ghundai and Sati Kundao, were hidden in valleys protected by checkpoints and hillside command posts.

Several of the camps near Khost were hit in the 20 August 1998 US cruise missile attack, launched in retaliation for the bombing on 07 August 1998 of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. A total of 224 people were killed in the two bombings, including twelve Americans. About 75 Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired against these campls. About a dozen cruise missiles hit Bin Laden's Al Badr camps, destroying residential huts but none of the ammunition depots. A Taliban spokesman said that 21 people were killed and 30 were injured when the cruise missiles struck the Zhawar Kili Al-Badr base. The US missiles hit two Pakistani-run camps, one run by Harkatul Mujahideen and the other by Jamit Mujaheddin. Most of the buildings and ammunition storage depots of the Harkatul Mujahideen camps were undamaged. The Salman Farsi camp was largely undamaged, though the Khalid Bin Waleed and the Hazrat Amir Mawia camps suffered substantial damage. Following the US attack, Rishkhor expanded into the largest training camp in Afghanistan.



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