Taliban fighters invited journalists to watch them gloat over the ruins of a CIA base that departing US forces destroyed

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Taliban fighters invited journalists to watch them gloat over the ruins of a CIA base that departing US forces destroyed
Members of the Taliban Badri 313 military unit stand beside damaged and discarded vehicles parked near the destroyed Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) base in Deh Sabz district northeast of Kabul on September 6, 2021 after the US pulled all its troops out of the country. AAMIR QURESHI/AFP via Getty Images
  • The Taliban invited journalists to inspect the remains of the CIA's base near Kabul, Afghanistan.
  • Reporters found detonated ammo dumps and, surreally, an intact games room and pool tables.
  • The US destroyed the base as it retreated, hoping to keep intelligence from Taliban hands.

Taliban militants invited journalists to the ruins of Eagle Base, the CIA base and detention facility just outside the Afghan capital of Kabul.

The US destroyed it while making a hasty retreat from Afghanistan after the country's government fell in mid-August.

Militants from the elite Badri 313 unit accompanied journalists from outlets including the news wire AFP, the Los Angeles Times, and the Turkish news channel TRT World to inspect the site Monday.

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The Taliban commander Mullah Hasnain told AFP that militants watched the base for 10 days as the US withdrew its forces and saw explosions at the site.

"We didn't stop them, even the last convoy that went by road to the airport," he said. "We didn't attack them, because we followed orders from our top officials."

Hasnain said one large crater at the site appeared to be an ammunition dump detonated by the US on August 27.

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Taliban fighters invited journalists to watch them gloat over the ruins of a CIA base that departing US forces destroyed
Members of the Taliban Badri 313 military unit walk amid debris of the destroyed Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) base in Deh Sabz district northeast of Kabul on September 6, 2021 after the US pulled all its troops out of the country. Aamir QURESHI / AFP) (Photo by AAMIR QURESHI/AFP via Getty Images

The blast came the day after a terrorist attack against refugees and US forces at Kabul airport and was mistaken by some on the day for a second attack.

Not everything was ruined, Hasnain said, pointing out what he said were intact rockets. He asked reporters not to touch them, adding, "We can still shoot with them."

Reporters filmed surreal scenes as they wandered the ruins, with one of the few intact buildings left at the site a recreation room with pool tables and a dart board, reported Ali Mustafa of TRT.

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Nabih Bulos, a correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, tweeted footage from the interior of one building showing debris, wild dogs running inside, and rows of what appeared to be cage-like or cabinet-like structures in one room.

"Here they are saying that they found nothing," Bulos said. "No computers, just empty rooms with lots of debris. They really did a number on this one."

US officials said the CIA detonated the base to prevent arms and intelligence from falling into the hands of the Taliban.

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The base, a sprawling complex in a former factory not far from Kabul airport, had been the nerve center of US intelligence operations in Afghanistan for two decades.

It was one of the CIA's notorious black sites, where detainees were interrogated and tortured after 9/11. It was also more recently used to train Afghan counterintelligence units.

The New York Times, on the basis of an analysis of satellite footage, found that as the US rushed to get citizens and allies out of Kabul in the wake of the Taliban's rise to power on August 15, clandestine evacuations had taken place from the base.

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