WASHINGTON — In a propaganda film posted to the Taliban’s official website, a fighter can be seen carrying a FN SCAR 7.62mm rifle, a weapon commonly issued to U.S. special operators, such as Marine Raiders and Army Rangers.
The 70-minute video titled “Omari Army 5,” produced by Al Emarah Studio — a media branch of the Taliban— showcases seven Taliban training bases and military training exercises being carried out by the resurgent militant group.
The video also displays U.S. weapon systems and optics commonly carried by American soldiers and Marines.
Attached to the rifle is what appears to be an AN/PEQ 5 visible laser, which aids special operators in aiming and precision fires in close quarters.
Affixed to the rifle’s side rail mount is a past model Surefire flashlight, issued to special operators as part of the older generation of Special Operations Peculiar Modification Kits — assorted optics, lasers and night vision equipment issued to American commandos that can be attached to an M4 carbine or SCAR rifle.
In terms of how U.S. military gear could wind up in the hands of the Taliban, #Afghanistan is a major market for illicit arms trafficking and plenty of these weapons are frequently captured by the Taliban during raids on Afghan troops.
The video prominently displays Ford Ranger trucks, for example, a vehicle supplied to the Afghan National Police by the U.S. The vehicles — and other equipment — are routinely captured by Taliban forces after attacks on poorly defended checkpoints.
“It would be more likely that the weapons were captured during an assault on a checkpoint, rather than raiding an armory or a base," Capt. William Salvin, a spokesperson for Operation Resolute Support, told Military Times.
“However, we can’t confirm where the weapons came from observed in the video,” Salvin added.
The U.S. supplies the Afghan army and its commando forces with M16s, M4s and ACOG sights through the Defense Department’s Afghan Security Forces Fund. The SCAR, however, is not part of the current inventory provided.
It is possible that Afghan forces are getting the SCAR through another Defense Department security assistance program, Salvin explained.
The rifle may have also been lost by U.S. forces last August, when American forces battling ISIS fighters in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, lost a SCAR and a host of other equipment — to include a tactical encrypted radio — as forces attempted to evacuate battlefield casualties, according to a report by the Washington Post.
“The August 2016 case is the only instance where an FN SCAR was not recovered from a mission,” Salvin told Military Times.
The FN SCAR is manufactured by FN Herstal, a Belgian company, and is also used by the British SAS, as well as special forces from Belgium, Lithuania, and Georgia.