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  • Writer's pictureJohn Wick

The Ghosts And Cryptids Of Afghanistan

For centuries, the barren wastelands and jagged mountain ranges of Afghanistan have been known as "the graveyard of empires." Rarely has a nickname be more appropriate, as time and again the great powers have dispatched mighty armies in attempts to gain control of the region, only to retreat leaving little more than blood and misery in their wake. From repeated attempts at conquest by her Persian neighbors to the occupations of the British Empire during the 19th century, and the more recent invasion by the Soviet Union, countless foreign soldiers have lost their lives in this desolate and unforgiving desert landscape.

Even between these incursions, the Afghan people have known little in the way of peace, experiencing long periods of Civil War and savage dictatorship. In the mid-1990s, the Pashtun tribes of Kandahar united to form the Taliban movement, which relentlessly expanded to eventually control 90% of the country, save for some minor resistance in northeastern areas.

The refusal to assist the United States with the capture of Osama bin Laden in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, led to yet another foreign invasion and the establishment of an International Security Force, which remained in place till August 2021. American Personnel returning from service in the region have reported that in addition to defending themselves from internationally banked terror groups and militarized local factions, they have also been subject to attacks from far more mysterious and unearthly opponents. Enemies who do not wield conventional weaponry, but are more than capable of ending the lives of soldiers who have become momentarily distracted or lowered their guard.

The Mysterious Intruders

In 2004, elements of the 3rd Infantry Brigade stationed in Mosul were called into action when the Diamondback Forward Operating Base (FOB) came under attack. One of the soldiers, Jerry Aberdeen, was riding in a Humvee with two other infantryman when they surprised a group of intruders clambering over the base's perimeter wall. The Americans immediately decamped from the vehicle and directed fire at the enemy, killing one and sending the others scrambling back over the top of the metal fencing. As they cautiously approached the downed insurgent, one of Aberdeen's colleagues noticed what seemed to be smoke coming out of the dead man's mouth and waved for the three men to keep their distance.

As the soldiers watched in horror, a steady stream of black smoke continued to rise up, until it formed a roughly humanoid shape. This entity regarded them for a moment with devilish red eyes, and a gaping mouth before it turned away and then dissipated into nothingness. Aberdeen can still not fully explain what it was that he encountered that day. All three men described witnessing the same apparition and the feelings of absolute terror and dread that it imbued.

By 2008, the American counter-offensive against the Taliban insurgency had advanced deep into the southern Helmand Province. A number of FOBs were established from which to conduct defensive patrols. This included a camp named Hassan Abad. One of the sentry posts situated along that base's perimeter would soon become infamous amongst the US Marines for its inexplicable and haunting occurrences. Known to its inhabitants simply as 'The Rock', the observation position sat in the ruins of an ancient mud fort, rising roughly 20 feet above ground level. In addition to the discovery of ancient remains and relics from the location's past, the occupying forces also unearthed abandoned items of more modern foreign equipment.

This soon gave rise to a rumor that the platoon of Russian soldiers had been executed and buried in the fort's remains by the Mujahideen, during the Soviet invasion. Within days of their arrival, sentries positioned at 'The Rock' started to report unsettling incidents. Initially, these consisted of minor equipment malfunctions, but only resolved themselves when the soldiers retreated back inside the base perimeter. Recently charged batteries in radio handsets and torches would be drained within minutes of arriving at the post and freshly cleaned weapons would inexplicably jam or misfire.

Soon, younger soldiers were asking not to be posted to the position, complaining that at night they were hearing phantom footsteps, crunching under the gravel or moaning and whispering, despite nobody being around. One NCO, Corporal Zolik, actually withdrew from the post refusing to return. He claimed that he had been there alone, when someone has coughed behind him before whispering something in Russian into his ear.

The situation continued to escalate with some men reporting having been physically assaulted by unseen attackers, so the number of sentries was doubled. Soldiers began to report strange lights moving around in the darkness near their position, with floating orbs of blue light seemed to venture in close to them, before shooting off again into the darkness. A few weeks into the events, sentries began seeing shapes and shadows venturing steadily closer to their positions. Thermal cameras were deployed, with nothing detected and despite the protestations of the men who made the report, no footprints were found the following morning where they indicated they had seen these movements taking place.

The shadow creature

One evening, Corporal Lima was scanning the horizon when he caught sight of a lone figure, stood silhouetted against the night sky. The man was making no effort to conceal himself and appeared to be standing upright with his fists clenched. Lima had a sickening feeling as if the figure was watching him specifically, and when he put on his night vision goggles for a better look, it immediately vanished. Shortly after, a marine sentry reported he had seen another dark figure, apparently stood waving at him some distance away. When he too had put on his night vision goggles, the man had gone.

As he had subsequently lowered the goggles, the figure had immediately reappeared and was now standing several feet closer to him. The soldier tried switching repeatedly between his night vision goggles and thermal scope, the mysterious interloper disappearing each time only to reappear even closer. When the approaching figure had close to about 20 feet, the sentry lost his nerve, letting off a signal flare and raising his carbine to open fire.

As the young soldier cautiously ventured forward, he could see no sign of the intruder. Suddenly there was a whisper in his ear and he was knocked to the floor by a savage blow to his ribs. Terrified, the guard fled back to base, weapon in hand and immediately requested a transfer to a new unit.

Experiences of the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment

The Hassan Abad hauntings are eerily similar to the experiences of the 504th parachute Infantry Regiment, who was stationed at FOB Salerno in the Southeastern Khost province. One of their observation points was located on the site of an old Afghan graveyard, overlooked by two ruined ancient towers. At night, the sentries would be plagued by the ghost of a young Afghan girl who did not show up on their thermal imaging goggles, but would materialize next to the men giggling and laughing at them.

But as troubling and haunting as these incidents were, they are trifling compared to the terror that an eight-man special forces team experienced when they were tasked with extracting a high-value target from a remote village, located in the country's mountainous Central Highlands region. They had been camped up on the target location for two days, when their radio equipment began to inexplicably fail on them.

The decision was made on the second night to withdraw a short distance in order to re-establish communications with headquarters. But as the team had begun to hike away from the village, they experienced a low buzzing sensation that gradually increased in volume and pitch until it was completely deafening to them. Unable to effectively move forward or talk to each other, the men were forced to dig in until the mysterious noise eventually subsided.

It was then that one of the lookouts spotted a white shape moving slowly towards their position out of the darkness. When the team observed the approaching figure, they were stunned by what they were seeing. Through their night vision goggles, it resembled a male Afghan elder dressed in long flowing white robes, but was not giving off any trace on their thermal imaging scopes. His unblinking eyes looked as if they were glowing a luminous and deep red color and he seems to be gliding slightly above the ground passing through the trees and rocks he encountered, as he steadily moved towards where the Special Forces team were concealed.

The soldiers continued to watch in horror as one of the male's arms dropped to the floor. The figure pause to pick up the limb, which melted back into his body as if it were some form of detachable appendage, disguised to look like an arm. It has then resumed its slow forward progress. At this point, the terrified soldiers became aware of illuminating lights and the sounds of shouting coming from the direction of the village. The approaching figure paused, seeming to contemplate this before turning and recommencing its ponderous journey now towards the village. Assuming the commotion they could hear was Taliban fighters coming to investigate the mysterious humming sound, the American soldiers immediately abandoned their position and made their way back to their own lines.

Two days later, a more heavily armed infantry force sent back to the village found nothing, but the hideously disfigured bodies of the target and his entourage. The dead had been brutally hacked at and dismembered, reduced to little more than bloodied chunks of flesh, their weapons lying empty and abandoned near their remains. There was no evidence at the scene to identify their attackers. But when the eight Special Forces operators heard about what had happened, they knew exactly what had carried out the attack.

It is easy to write off the majority of these stories as products of an overactive imagination that has been placed under tremendous amounts of stress or perhaps some form of group hysteria. Sometimes the human mind will reinterpret visual information and also memories as a coping mechanism in order to deal with something too traumatic or confusing for it to effectively process. Often witnesses may agree with a false or mistaken assertion about an event in order to create a more acceptable version, meaning they can move on and not dwell on the subject. The seemingly impossible situations that soldiers are forced into often in hostile and foreign environments would be difficult to endure even without the added pressure of being located far away from their homes and loved ones. And with a significant lack of physical or recorded evidence for any of these encounters, it is not unreasonable to assume that they were indeed false constructs arising from the perpetual fear of enemy attack and the disorientation of a nighttime setting.

The Cryptid of Afghanistan

But it proves harder to discredit an incident that is experienced by multiple witnesses, across a number of different military units, that resulted in the remains of an ancient monster being recovered and taken back to the United States for scientific analysis. This is alleged to have occurred back in 2002 when a US Infantry unit disappeared whilst on patrol in the Kandahar desert, prompting the Army to dispatch a special forces team in an effort to find out what happened to them.

After a few days spent scouting around the patrol's last reported position, the special forces operators found themselves gravitating towards a nearby pathway, that led up into a neighboring mountainous area. A few hundred meters along the track, they encountered a number of discarded items of broken and damaged field equipment, including a portable radio set and several military issued backpacks.

As the American soldiers slowly and deliberately followed a lengthening trail of broken and discarded military hardware, they grimly observed that some of it was flecked with what appeared to be blood. They also began to take note of the growing numbers of spent cartridge casings that were on the ground ahead of them. The winding path eventually led the men to a series of cave entrances, which opened out into an exposed plateau.

It was here that they found broken bones and torn uniforms belonging to the men they had been searching for. The team slowly found out to take up secure positions around the grim scene, mindful that the enemy might still be nearby. It's took no time at all for these suspicions to be realized. There was a flash of movement from one of the cave mouths and within a heartbeat, the team's leading member was hurled backwards, a crudely fashioned but lengthy wooden spear having penetrated right through his lightweight body armor.

For a moment, his comrade stood paralyzed in shock as a guttural and primal roar echoed around them, before something came charging out of the dark opening ahead of them. Their attacker was clad in animal skins, standing 13 foot tall with shaggy red hair and a thick beard. As the nightmarish creature ran to retrieve its weapon from the body of their dead friend, the team's fear now turned to rage. For the next 30 seconds, each man emptied round after round into the face of their attacker, reloading again and again until its body finally stopped twitching.

As half their number began to retrieve what remained of the dead patrol, the others carried out a closer inspection of the monster they had just killed. In addition to its imposing height and build, the giant had sharpened teeth and 6 digits on each hand. On its feet, it wore further animal skin coverings and more crude weapons fashioned from unidentifiable bones were attached to its clothing. What sets this tale aside from the others is that the existence of the creature was validated not only by the soldiers who encountered it, but also by those who helped to recover the remains. The body weighed over 500 kilograms and proved difficult to load into the helicopter by the air crew who were sent to retrieve it.

The smell it produced also proved so bad that is almost overwhelmed the pilots of the C-130 cargo plane that was used to transport them back to the USA. Whilst the circumstances surrounding the other stories we have examined here could realistically be relocated to any other time and place, the description of the Kandahar giant which was killed by American forces in Afghanistan bears a striking resemblance to the Nephilim, which are referenced early on in the Christian Bible.

They were a race of demigods, sired by fallen and banished angels who chose to settle on Earth with human partners. The descriptions of Jerry Aberdeen's attacker and some of the entities seen in and around Hassan Abad also correspond perfectly with the nature of another ancient being: the Jinn. These secretive spirit creatures can be tracked back to the earliest records of Islamic culture, often described as shapeless beings of smokeless fire. The Jinn were playful and mischievous deriving great pleasure out of dabbling and interfering with the affairs of mankind.

Afghanistan is a land of impenetrable mountain ranges and endless tracts of perpetually moving desert and deep cave networks. It is entirely possible that creatures and races long thought to have been killed off by the activities of man, have actually managed to evade both detection and capture. Only in times of extreme and widespread conflict have the warriors of humanity been forced into confrontation with these subjects of myth and legend.

Unexpected encounters with them often proved to be both quick and deadly in nature.

Much as with previous conflicts, the government of the United States and other nations have steadfastly refused to comment on any cases where their combatants are alleged to have been involved in paranormal incidents. It is fair to believe this is a tactic they employ in order to invalidate the stories or deter further scrutiny, allowing them to conduct internal evaluations and debriefs of what actually took place.


It is easy enough to disbelieve or discredit a lone soldier reporting a supernatural encounter, but when their claims are reinforced with matching accounts from other servicemen and accompanying written testimony, it grows more likely that there is some degree of truth in what they are saying. As mankind continues to venture further out into previously uncharted areas of our world, we are constantly reading reports in the media of new creatures and species being discovered, that were previously thought not to exist.

If such life forms have been dwelling in the depths of the ocean and underneath the thick canopies of impenetrable rainforests, then why not in the wild and isolated mountain regions of Afghanistan? Maybe one day we'll know for certain.


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