Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan tape highlights foreign fighters, operations against Pakistani military


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Abdul Qader, a Russian who was killed in Pakistan while fighting with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.

The al Qaeda-linked Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan has recently released a videotape that celebrates the deaths of foreign fighters in its ranks from Europe, Central Asia, and North Africa, and also highlights attacks against the Pakistani military in the tribal agency of South Waziristan.

Produced in December 2010 by Jundallah Studios, a jihadist media outlet that has published propaganda tapes from the IMU in the past, the videotape, titled "Good News From Pakistan," was released on a jihadist forum on Jan. 17. A copy of the videotape was published by Asia Times.

This latest IMU propaganda effort is aimed at IMU supporters and new recruits alike. Running just over 50 minutes in length, the tape highlights IMU fighters from across the globe who have been killed in recent fighting in Pakistan, and stresses the importance of waging jihad against the Pakistani state.

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Abul Harith, a Tunisian who was killed in Pakistan while fighting along with the IMU.

The videotape also provides an interesting look at both the shifting nature of the IMU and the group's continued inclusion of foreign fighters within its ranks.

The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan is an al Qaeda-affiliated group whose leadership cadre is based primarily in Pakistan's Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan. The terror group operates primarily along the Afghan-Pakistani border and in northern Afghanistan. According to one estimate, more than 3,000 Uzbeks, Central Asian, and other foreign fighters belonging to the IMU are sheltering in North Waziristan.

The IMU's former leader, Tahir Yuldashev, was killed in a US Predator airstrike in South Waziristan in September 2009. Yuldashev sat on al Qaeda's top council, the Shura Majlis. He has been replaced by Abu Usman Adil.

Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan's global martyrs

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Moqatel, an IMU soldier from Uzbekistan who served as a bodyguard for Tahir Yuldashev and Taliban leader Waliur Rahman Mehsud.

The video celebrates the deaths of 19 IMU members from various countries, including Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Russian, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkey, Tunisia, and Morocco. The exact date of their deaths is not disclosed. In the video, 10 of those featured were from Uzbekistan, three were from Tajikistan, two were from Russia, and one each were from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Morocco, and Tunisia.

Three of those killed (two Uzbeks and a Tajik) were "students" of "the jihad school 'Commander Jumabai.'" Three other Uzbeks were Shariah, or Islamic law, officials. One of the Russians served as a trainer at a camp in Pakistan.

Another three Uzbeks were described as bodyguards; one of them, Moqatel, is seen sitting next to South Waziristan Taliban emir Waliur Rahman Mehsud and slain IMU leader Tahir Yuldashev. The IMU is known to provide bodyguards to leaders of the Pakistani Taliban, and Uzbeks are often among those killed when US Predators kill Taliban commanders in strikes in North and South Waziristan.

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Ikhlas Yar, the leader of the IMU's "assault-commandos."

IMU commanders and camps

The videotape also identifies several previously unknown IMU commanders. Emir Sejana is lauded as a senior commander who has fought in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Sejana is shown talking to scores of fighters in an open field. Ikhlas Yar is identified as Sejana's deputy and the leader of the IMU's "assault-commandos."

Musa, a commander from Uzbekistan, is identified as "a trainer and leader in combat." Musa trained at a camp in Chechnya that was run by Ibn Khattab, the slain leader of al Qaeda's fighters in the Russian republic. Abdullah Ibn Zubair is identified as a trainer who runs one of the IMU's "jihad schools." Also, a German known as Abu Laith is seen on the tape.

In the videotape, the IMU also hints at the locations of its training camps. The Wana and Badr areas of South Waziristan, and Gardez in Paktia are said to have hosted IMU camps.

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Haji Noor Islam, a powerful Taliban commander in Wana, South Waziristan, who supports the IMU.

Pakistani Taliban supporters

The IMU heaps praise on Haji Noor Islam, a Taliban commander based in the Wana area of South Waziristan. Noor Islam has long been known to be an active supporter of Uzbek, Tajik, and Arabs fighters settled in South Waziristan.

The IMU said Noor supports the IMU's operations in South Waziristan, married his own daughters to "noble guests," and continues to carry out operations against the military despite being 55 years old.

"He has put up with hundreds of Muhajiroon [emigrants or foreign fighters] and sacrificed all of his property," according to the IMU. "He has had his daughters married to the 'noble guests,' as he calls them. Even till today he participate in the fight at the age of 55."

Noor Islam backed the IMU during its dispute with Mullah Nazir, the South Waziristan Taliban chief in Wana, in 2007 and 2008. The Pakistani government backed Nazir during those clashes, despite the fact that Nazir actively supports al Qaeda and harbors its leaders and fighters.

The IMU also praises Waliur Rahman Mehsud, and also shows footage of Mullah Dadullah Lang, the slain Afghan Taliban commander who embraced al Qaeda's philosophy, tactics, and views on global jihad.

Attacks on Pakistani outposts in South Waziristan

The tape also includes footage of several attacks by the IMU in South Waziristan. The tape focuses on two operations: an April 2010 attack on a military convoy in the town of Kaniguram, and an August 2010 attack in the town of Bospa.

In the Bospa attack, the IMU is shown planning the operation, which included a mortar attack on a mountaintop base followed by machinegun and small arms attack. The Taliban claimed to have destroyed the Pakistani Army "trenches." The IMU said the assault was led by Commander Sejana and was executed by 60 fighters.

In one of the clips, IMU fighters are seen holding the severed heads of Pakistani soldiers.

The Pakistani military claimed it defeated the Taliban last summer after launching an operation that started in October 2009. But Pakistani troops are reported to control only the major towns and the roadways, while the Taliban launch small-scale attacks in the rest of the tribal agency.

The tape ends with a chilling 'preview' of a future tape, which includes images of child recruits, and the following subtitle: "The Jihad of Pakistan: An Adventure for the whole family."



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READER COMMENTS: "Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan tape highlights foreign fighters, operations against Pakistani military "

Posted by Marz at February 11, 2011 3:49 AM ET:

28:17 is Zawahiri greeting Yuldashev.

Posted by kp at February 11, 2011 12:09 PM ET:

So it's a sort of Drone Strike Greatest Hits tape?

Hmmm, Drone Strike would be a good name for a band.

Interesting that they reveal the other previously unknown folks. I presume for group cohesion though it's useful open-source intel that probably confirms but CIA probably already knows. Though good face shots will help the positive confirmation of targets by the drone ops: that should allow for accurate hits or better intel when tracking folks.

Posted by michael at February 11, 2011 3:56 PM ET:

Bill, Marz,

there are some more interesting facts:

http://ojihad.wordpress.com/2011/02/02/jihad-in-pakistan-notes-on-imu%C2%B4s-latest-video/

The short speech of Hakemullah Mehsud (leader TTP) about how Tahir Jaan (Yuldashev) incited them to jihad starts at 46:26.
It is worthwhile to note that Pakistani journalist Imtiaz Gul mentioned in his book (The Most Dangerous Place, 2010) that Tahir Jaan (Yuldashev) was a wanted speaker in the Wana area of South Waziristan in the early 2000's and that locals were furious when the rumour spread that Yuldashev was killed during the Kaloosha operation in 2004. (The rumour turned out to be false, of course, and he was instead killed in August 2009 by a drone attack.)
It sheds some interesting light on the beginnings of the jihad in Waziristan. As far as I know, few hard facts exist about this.

Posted by Eddie D. at February 11, 2011 4:10 PM ET:

The children wiill be poisoned, what a shame on these people.

Posted by JT at February 11, 2011 5:44 PM ET:

Speaking of drone strikes:

I wonder if it is simply a statistical aberration or there is a reason behind the large gap without a drone strike. It has been almost three weeks without one. Very unusual. (would the Egypt unrest be a reason not to strike? I hope not, at least if a HVT was involved).

Posted by JT at February 11, 2011 5:49 PM ET:

I suppose the lack of drone strikes will continue until Davis is handed over to the US. The US is apparently pressuring hard for his return.

Posted by Nobody at February 12, 2011 1:59 AM ET:

"The IMU is known to provide bodyguards to leaders of the Pakistani Taliban, and Uzbeks are often among those killed when US Predators kill Taliban commanders in strikes in North and South Waziristan."

An interesting insight into the targeting process of the CIA drone strikes. No senior AQ leadership ever get's whacked but the Pak's are more than willing to give up IMU fighters to the drones, very, very interesting.

Posted by Villiger at February 12, 2011 11:02 AM ET:

JT, do you think it could have something to do with Raymond Davis and Pakistani cooperation? Or maybe a cheque for Pakistan is delayed?

Posted by Graham at February 13, 2011 11:06 AM ET:

Why are they more interested in fighting the Pakistani army instead of us?

Posted by KnightHawk at February 14, 2011 5:44 AM ET:

Graham, who would you rather pick a fight with at present? They can always just wait us out.

Posted by Mike at February 14, 2011 2:50 PM ET:

Winter weather is one of the greatest impediment to drone strikes.

Posted by TLW at February 16, 2011 2:42 PM ET:

The Uzbeks have zero connections with Pakistan and are simultaneously foreign militants.

And as for drones, I have a counter question; why has there been no highly visible public support by the American commentariat (conservative or otherwise) in favour of "Raymond" "Davis"?