Word has spread in among Taliban fighters and Afghan civilians about the video depicting U.S. Marines urinating on dead Afghans, despite the lack of electricity and internet connections in most of the country.
“Our leaders overlooked this degrading and inhumane act of American soldiers because they are interested in peace talks,” said Mullah Mohammad Gul, a local Taliban commander in southern Helmand province, where the video is believed to have been made. “Our duty is to defend our sacred religion and our people and we will keep fighting, no matter what.”
Some insurgents have said knowledge of the video could cause chaos and push lower level fighters to ignore their commanders with a vengeance.
“Until now, we were following guidelines and principles laid down by our senior commanders for us to follow while fighting,” said Babar, active in Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar province. “Every one is now desperately trying to find U.S. soldiers to take revenge for the desecration of the bodies,” he added.
Some Afghans have expressed outrage, but not surprise, since U.S. soldiers do many barbaric things that disrespect Afghans. “Such things happen all the time, and people talk about it but media hardly report them,” said Karimi, a shopkeeper from the southern city of Kandahar.
Night raids have also caused a lot of backlash from Afghans and has increased support for the Taliban. Civilians bear the brunt of these hardline tactics. As one man from Nangarhar said, “They claim to be against terrorists, but what they are doing is terrorism. It spreads terror. It creates more violence.”
“It helps us to win the support and sympathy of the Afghan people,” Abdul Basit, who fights in eastern Khost province, told Reuters.
“You see now the entire nation, even so many people in the government and armed forces, have turned against them because of the atrocities,” Basit said. “From now on, hate against the foreign troops will grow in the hearts of every Muslim, especially in Afghanistan.”
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