Surreal Footage Appears to Show Taliban Militants Driving Bumper Cars and Lifting Weights

In one clip, a group of men are trying out exercise equipment as one person holds a rocket launcher.

Aug 17 2021, 10:51am

Since the Taliban took control in Kabul on Sunday, the world has witnessed eerie and horrific scenes from the Afghan capital: people scrambling to secure passports, heartbreaking footage of Afghans clinging to flying planes (and later falling to their deaths), and pictures of women being covered up from public view.

But amid the chaos and uncertainty that has gripped the war-torn nation as it again faces life under Taliban rule, another set of videos shows members of the fundamentalist group engaging in almost childlike playfulness at local theme park rides and in a workout facility.

In one viral clip emerging in recent days, two men shared a ride in a bumper car while holding onto what appear to be rifles. Outside the rink, people looked on. 

An error occurred while retrieving the Tweet. It might have been deleted.
An error occurred while retrieving the Tweet. It might have been deleted.

Meanwhile, another video shows bearded men perched on small painted ponies on a merry-go-round.

An error occurred while retrieving the Tweet. It might have been deleted.

Yet another video showed armed men using the gym. In the recording, a man pedals backwards fiercely on an elliptical machine while another is seen holding what appears to be a rocket launcher.

An error occurred while retrieving the Tweet. It might have been deleted.

Sajjan M. Gohel, a security and terrorism expert specializing in Islamist ideology, told VICE World News that the videos of purported Taliban members having fun at the gym and amusement park sheds light on how “sheltered” they’ve been from the outside world.

“They will have never experienced places like this before, other than rigid ideological training,” he said. 

The widely shared videos could not be independently verified, but they are in line with some of the reporting that has emerged in the days since the takeover by the Taliban, which is projecting a softer image and promising to uphold many basic rights even as skepticism of the vows runs deep.

Gohel noted that the Taliban has become more media savvy than they were in the 1990s due to greater exposure to technology and increased interactions with the West. He also highlighted the value of these videos as propaganda “to try and show a softer, perhaps more clownish side” of the notoriously cruel organization.


In a tweet on August 15, Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen advised the Islamist fighters to “pay utmost attention” to public facilities that are the “trust and property of the nation.”

An error occurred while retrieving the Tweet. It might have been deleted.

In Mazār-i-Sharīf, a city north of Kabul, Taliban members were seen snacking and sprawled about the opulent residence of Abdul Rashid Dostum, a warlord who reportedly fled the country when his city fell to the Taliban on Saturday in their breakneck advance on Kabul.

An error occurred while retrieving the Tweet. It might have been deleted.

But many are justifiably suspicious of the Taliban’s hands-off approach so far.

“It's important not to be taken in by this propaganda,” said Gohel, citing the group’s continuous repression of civil liberties. “The Taliban have not changed, and their misogynistic doctrine remains intact.”

The hard-line Islamist group, which was in power from 1996 to 2001, is infamous for its brutal treatment of Afghan civilians, having used stoning, amputations, and executions to enforce their interpretation of Shariah law, while also prohibiting women from getting a complete education, listening to music, and moviegoing.

In the years after their ouster by NATO forces, the Taliban have also claimed responsibility for car bombings and school shootings.


Taliban, Afghanistan, weird, worldnews

like this
Horrific Photos of Bleeding Afghans Contradict Taliban’s ‘Peaceful’ Vow
There Will Be More ISIS and Taliban Attacks. Afghan Civilians Will Suffer Most.
Extremist Groups Look to the Taliban Takeover in Afghanistan for Inspiration
A Resistance Movement Is Building in Afghanistan. But It Will Take More to Defy the Taliban.
There Were Guns at a News Broadcast in Taliban-Run Afghanistan. Lots of Guns.
‘No Way Out’: Afghans Queue Desperately for Passports for Chance to Escape
Afghans Living Abroad Are Helplessly Waiting For News From Home
Taliban Carry Coffins Draped With US Flag in Celebration of Their Victory