Taliban photo appears to mock Iwo Jima’s flag in latest propaganda campaign

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The Taliban media wing wasted no time releasing a wealth of new propaganda following its rise to power.

In a particular image released this week, members of the Taliban’s Badri 313 Battalion appear to mock Joe Rosenthal’s iconic 1945 image of the flag hoisted atop Mount Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima.

In the Taliban image, fighters belonging to Badri 313, which some refer to as the Taliban elite commando unit, are shown dressed in full camouflage uniforms, combat boots, tactical gear and goggles night vision.

Similar photographs released in recent days show Taliban fighters carry weapons and equipment issued by the United States or Allied countries, including M4 rifles and what appear to be Trijicon Advanced Combat Optical Sights, or ACOG.

The images are a notable departure from traditional depictions of Taliban fighters, who rarely appeared with heavy weapons or in full military gear, loot left behind by the Afghan army.

“When an armed group gets its hands on American-made weapons, it’s kind of a status symbol,” Elias Yousif, deputy director of the Security Assistance Monitor at the Center for International Policy, told The Hill on Thursday. “It’s a psychological victory. … Clearly, this is an indictment against the US security cooperation enterprise at large. This should really raise a lot of concerns about the broader business going on every day, be it in the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia.

Yousif added that much of the equipment would likely go unused, given the group’s lack of training when it comes to piloting a collection of planes that, as of July, included 45 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters. and four C-130 transport planes, according to the report of the Special Inspector General for the Reconstruction of Afghanistan.

“We obviously don’t have a complete picture of where every piece of defense material went, but a good deal certainly fell into the hands of the Taliban,” the national security adviser told reporters. the White House, Jake Sullivan. .

“And of course, we don’t have a feeling that they’re going to hand it over to us easily at the airport.”

Sullivan’s grim message was reinforced by the appearance of the Badri Battalion, which takes its name from the 7th century victory led by the Prophet Muhammad in the Battle of Badr.

In an Aug. 17 video shared on Twitter describing Badri 313 fighters, Qari Saeed Khosty, a well-known pro-Taliban influencer on social media, claimed that the Afghanistan-based detachment was simply in Kabul to ensure peace.

JD Simkins is a writer and editor for Military Times, and a USMC veteran.

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