Published: June 17th 2010June 12th 2010 Our mission
The main buildings (destroyed) are in the background. This is the famous training ground for AQ terrorists with one of the assault walls easily seen.
: to look at the possibilities for agriculture south of Kandahar City. Where we got to
: Tarnak Agricultural Research Station, better known as Osama Bin Laden's training centre, famous for the videos of Al Qaeda recruits running over the assault course. Tarnak Farm is where it all started.
All this frightful mess and loss of life we've suffered in the last ten years. 9/11 was planned here and the leader, Mohammed Atta, apparently made his will here before he left to attack the Twin Towers.
OBL moved to Tarnak in 1998 as a guest of the Taliban government (yes, the Taliban WAS the legitimate Afghan Government between 1996 and late 2001) when his residence near Jallalabad was threatened. There is a suggestion that the Clinton Administration planned to kidnap him at that time which would have saved a great deal of trouble and many lives but what was seen from the air apparently as a child's swing deterred the soft-hearted President from the possibility of collateral damage to women and children - in fact the "swing" was probably the 'monkey bars' that one can see terrorists dangling from in the AQ videos; sadly these bars were sawn off
In the Ruins
It's a hard scramble through the ruins of the main farm building, finally bombed and totally destroyed in 2001
but you can still see the stumps - and the barbed wire and other parts of the assault course still remain intact. How many thousands of lives and billions of treasure would have been saved if Clinton had been a little tougher.
Tarnak is an cursed place; as well as the actual base ("Al Qaeda" means "The Base" in Arabic) for OBL's movement and all the evil that has led to, it was the scene for a notorious "friendly fire" incident that killed four Canadian soldiers and wounded eight others. The so-called 'Tarnak Incident' occurred on April 18th 2002. You can get more on this at The Incident
The Farm is in ruins. It was eventually bombed and entirely destroyed in 2001 but there is still enough to see, in particular the assault course and also a Afghan National Police post on the highest remaining point, placed there to ensure the Farm doesn't become a shrine. It's a hard scramble to get to the top but worth it for the view North over minefields to the Kandahar Airfield (KAF) and south over beautiful farmland (the subject of my next post).
The location is only reasonably
This is what it's like out in the rural areas in AFG. This is Taliban country. We're patrolling around Tarnak Farm - the boundary wall is on the left.
safe, we had to put out our security armed with light machine guns and AKs. An hour in the heat is as much as you need to see what the ruins hold and then a trudge down the road to chat to the local farmers. The farming side is the subject of Part 2 of this post to follow when I get my breath back from all this running around.
There are more photos below