Hyderabad: The Taliban, which started in 1994, is undergoing a metamorphosis, as reports of the ‘special forces unit’ patrolling Kabul have begun to emerge from Afghanistan. It has reportedly shattered the stereotypical image held by many of the militant group.
According to internet sources, the unit ‘Badri 313’ is named after the Battle of Badr, which is believed to be the Islamic first war of Muslim that took place in 2 A.H or 624 C.E, under the command of the Prophet Muhammad and has been mentioned about in the Quran.
Rather than the typical Salwar Kameez and AK-47 slung over the shoulder, which became synonymous with farmer turned-militant Taliban fighters, the ‘Badri 313’ battalion forces are altogether in a different outfit. The battalion previously unveiled by the Taliban in a promotional material, reportedly comprises highly trained commandos equipped with state-of-the-art military equipment.
Where the unit acquired the equipment is unknown, and it appears to be a combination of U.S. military hardware used by Afghan forces, likely seized as Western and allied forces withdrew from the country.
In videos released by the the online group ‘Islamic Emirates,’ the Badri 313 soldiers are seen with military helmets and sunglasses instead of the usual black turbans, bullet proof vests over camouflage jackets and trousers instead of the typical robes, and armed with tactical rifles instead of the cold-war era guns.
Moreover, the unit appears to be armed with modern side-arms, wearing modern combat boots, with night vision goggles, making them difficult to distinguish from any other country’s special combat units.
Images and videos of the special commando-style unite have previously been released, and there are now reports that its personnel are patrolling the streets of Kabul after the Taliban took control of the city on Sunday. They have apparently been deployed for security purposes according to reports on Afghan social media.
The Badri 313 prepares like any other Special Forces commando unit, employing tactical and attack training in undisclosed locations run by the Islamic Emirates reported India Today.
According to an article in the Daily Mail.co.uk, when the Taliban first released images of the Badri 313, experts believed that they were sending a signal that showed they were no longer a rag-tag group of farmers, but now had modern military capabilities.
Additionally, experts suggested that the Taliban’s tenacity has been well documented, but their lack of equipment always put them at a significant disadvantage against US and NATO forces. The addition of night vision goggles in particular raised eyebrows when images of the Badri 313 were released, hinting that the Taliban would now be better equipped to combat night raids, or even carry out their own.
The Taliban has “gone up a step”, according to Zaid Hamid, a Soviet-Afghan war veteran, who told that to The Sun in July. He added “When I was part of Afghan Mujahideen, we defeated the Soviet Union using the Soviet weapons, either snatched from the Soviet army or given to us by our allies.”
Furthermore, Zaid Hamid told the newspaper that Afghan Taliban have gone a step further as they only snatched from the Americans and the Afghan army. He added “From a rag tag militia of shepherds, farmers and shopkeepers, Afghan Taliban have really come of age.” Hamid remarked that Indians fear that very soon they will find them in Indian-occupied Kashmir too.
A member of the Pakistan Defence website told the media that it showed the Taliban were no longer a bunch of farmers, but a professional paramilitary force, with one experts suggesting they were even better equipped that Pakistan’s army.
Speaking to India Today, Indian Maj Gen GG Dwivedi said that the Taliban are highly ideological outfit and they draw their motivation from religious fervor adding that it is not a surprise to see them equipped. “This is a danger to the entire region,” he remarked.
Questions will surely be raised over how the Taliban have come into possession of such high-tech military equipment, with some suggesting that they have stolen or seized it from departing U.S. troops or defeated Afghan soldiers.