An al Qaeda-produced video claiming to show how U.S. and Afghan forces were driven out of a heavily defended base in the last few weeks appears to be a phony. U.S. and NATO military officials have studied the tape but say they have no record of any such attack in the last month, and an analysis of the tape by ABC News raises many questions of whether the base was even occupied when it was supposedly attacked. There are green leaves on the trees, no snow on the mountains and the fighters appear to be dressed rather lightly for the harsh Afghan winter where nighttime temperatures have been around 15 degrees this month. Scenes of the bases, supposedly shot before the attack, show only one person walking up a hill at long range. Scenes of the base, supposedly shot after the attack, show no evidence of damage, bodies, blood stains, spent shells or abandoned equipment other than one broken-down pickup truck. Click Here for Full Blotter Coverage. Nighttime attack scenes are so dark, it is impossible to make out who is firing what kind of weapon. And the contention that the fighters "liberated" the Zabul province area, where the tape was supposedly shot, is scoffed at by top Afghan experts contacted by ABC News. "The U.S. presence in Zabul is still strong. The U.S. is still fighting and is doing development projects in the area," said Seth Jones, an analyst at the Rand Corporation, who has just returned from Afghanistan. Jones said there have been a series of coordinated attacks by al Qaeda and Taliban fighters in that province but that he was there at the time of the supposed attack and "never heard of any such incident." The tape has all the standard trademarks of the al Qaeda propaganda operations with the same graphics and production techniques that have marked dozens of previous tapes.
This latest tape begins with a statement from al Qaeda’s No. 2 man, Ayman al Zawahri, that the tape will prove that President Bush’s strategy in Afghanistan is failing.
As is often the case with its most important productions, al Qaeda has provided both an Arabic and English language version, with the English version narrated by former Californian Adam Gadahn. Gadahn’s role as a top leader of al Qaeda has led to his indictment by a federal grand jury for treason.