Instead of turban they wear helmets with night vision devices, instead of traditional robes camouflage uniforms and bulletproof vests, instead of sandals heavy combat boots: the “Badri 313” unit is the modern elite force of the Taliban.
Her motto is also ominous: “We strike to destroy.”
The Taliban enjoy sharing pictures of their high-tech fighters who actually exist, but whose photos are also used for propaganda purposes and intimidation.
The members of “Badri 313” have “proven their effectiveness on the battlefield,” says Bill Roggio, editor-in-chief of the “Long War Journal”, a US magazine that deals with the war on terror. “We have seen in the final offensive since May that the Taliban’s special forces played a central role in the conquest of Afghanistan,” he says.
But he also says that he does not rule out a certain exaggeration in Taliban propaganda.
The special unit has, according to Matt Henman, the head of terrorism and insurgency at the military magazine «Jane’s», «probably some of the best trained and equipped fighters» in Afghanistan. He estimates their number at a few thousand fighters. According to Henman, it is “very likely that they received at least basic training from Pakistan”.
With the victory over the Afghan army, the fighters are now even better equipped because they have captured their weapons and vehicles. Among other things, they have the all-terrain Humvees and the light and very handy Colt M4 Carbine assault rifle.
Large parts of the equipment originally came from the USA – and the unit insisted on mocking the US armed forces: one photo shows fighters hoisting a Taliban flag – in the style of the famous photo of the US forces at the Battle of Iwojima, Japan during World War II. That too: propaganda.
Beyond the military, unity also plays a political role. It is closely linked to the Hakkani network, a notorious sub-group of the Taliban. Two representatives of the network are currently involved in the negotiations on the new government in Kabul.
The “Badri 313” also fought against ISIS between 2017 and 2020. For a few days now, the fighters have been deployed to secure the area around Kabul Airport and face the US troops and German Bundeswehr soldiers directly.
Name comes from hero story
Over the past 20 years, the Taliban have professionalized. Gilles Dorronsoro, Professor of Political Science at the Panthéon-Sorbonne University in Paris, says: “The war they are waging is not at all the same as the one their parents waged against the Russians.”
The unit takes its name from the Islamic heroic story. He alludes to the Battle of Badr in the 7th century, when the Prophet Mohammed is said to have triumphed with only 313 soldiers against one of the ruling tribes on the Arabian Peninsula. The battle is considered a key moment in early Islamic history. (AFP / gf)