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Monday, 14 January, 2002, 14:05 GMT
Eyewitness: Inside an al-Qaeda camp
Al Qaeda camp
The camp lies shattered and deserted
Video tapes believed to show al-Qaeda trainees in Afghanistan have been uncovered in Kabul. BBC News Online's Marcus George has seen some of the footage and visited the training ground.

Fighters storm into rooms and let off assault rifles liberally at white cardboard cut-outs. Beyond, snow-clad mountains provide the backdrop.

In the following room, kidnappers harangue their victims, shouting at them in English to "move!".

A separate scene shows masked fighters scaling the wall of a building.

He lobs a grenade through the window which, moments later, blows a hole in the wall.

All are scenes from films apparently found after the Taleban fled Kabul, and shot at what appears to be an al-Qaeda training camp at Mir Bacha Kot - a small village to the north of Kabul.

The chilling pictures are accompanied by a revolutionary song which goads listeners to 'fight in the way of God'

The chilling pictures are accompanied by a revolutionary song which goads listeners to "fight in the way of God: "We have to follow our faith ... Is there any faith like this?"

Assassination plan

In another section an assassination plan is put into practice on a golf course. Caddies pull guns from golfing bags and deftly execute their victim.

The videos, totalling seven hours of footage, were found in the house of the camp commander in Kabul by Northern Alliance forces.

Former US President Clinton playing Golf
Al-Qaeda planned to strike on the golf course
They were brought to light by a man named only as "Jack", an American military adviser to the Northern Alliance.

The footage, which shows many faces, are likely to prove extremely useful for US intelligence in their hunt for al-Qaeda fighters and operatives.

Unlike earlier videos, many faces remain unmasked.

The participants are seen laughing and joking. These activities may be serious exercises but ones which are worryingly enjoyed by the trainees.

The tapes show that recruitment starts at a tender age. A girl, no older than six, tells the camera she wants to shoot infidels

Other shots show a briefing of a planned operation to assassinate "enemies of Islam".

"The operation will take place on Friday," the instructor explains in Arabic indicating to a motorway junction drawn on a white board.

"The operation will start when the men inside the car opens the boot."

A rehearsal of the operation follows. Two men spring out from their concealed places in the back of a jeep and proceed to pump dozens of rounds into the car behind, escaping on a motorbike afterwards.

Detailed planning

These films, if genuine, are a testimony to the detailed planning of al-Qaeda operations. And it is not known if the trainees are still alive.

Piles of discarded ammunition lie all around

The tapes show that the process starts at a tender age. One section of the film depicts two children holding guns.

A girl, no older than six, tells the camera she wants to shoot infidels with the Kalashnikov in her hands.

A voice in Arabic asks a toddler beside her why he's carrying a gun. "Who do you want to kill?" the voice asks.

At the camp the severe dereliction remains but, for now, all is quiet.

Squalid debris

The squalid debris of a militarised community, spent cartridges, bomb parts, is apparent everywhere.

Pictures of tanks and helicopters have been chalked onto the walls. But the corridors where the kidnappers played out their operation, have been silent for weeks.

Al Qaeda camp
Al-Qaeda slogans remain on the camp walls
Hundreds of mortar bombs lie strewn on the floor of a separate building, formerly used as an ammunitions supply. The explosives include ordnance, believed to be American.

Northern Alliance fighters, who are now guarding the camp, act with apparent immunity to the dangers of these weapons. One soldier rolls a bomb, like a football, under his foot.

"What you're doing is extremely dangerous," I said.

"What, this?" he said, fooling about, as he picked up one of the mortars and shook it at me.

Community destroyed

Villagers have seen their community destroyed by the activities at the camp.

"We couldn't come to this area because there were Arabs," said one villager. "So the Taleban arrested me and confiscated my money, put me in jail and beat me.

Local people have seen their communities destroyed

"The Arabs didn't allow people to come in. They told us that this place belonged to them, he said.

"I want to return. But we are waiting for the irrigation systems to be reconstructed because they have been blown up by mines," he added.

"Our houses are destroyed so we have to live in misery in Kabul and cannot afford to feed our families."

See also:

13 Jan 02 | South Asia
Video 'reveals al-Qaeda terror plot'
12 Jan 02 | South Asia
Harsh conditions for Afghan prisoners
04 Jan 02 | Americas
Castro 'does not oppose' US prison
28 Dec 01 | Americas
Destination Guantanamo Bay
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