A facilitator who works for both the Haqqani Network and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and aids “foreign fighters, including Iranians” to carry out attacks in the east was targeted in a special operations raid yesterday in eastern Afghanistan.
The commander, who was not named, was the focus of a combined Coalition and Afghan special operations forces raid in the Orgun district in Paktika province. One “suspect” was detained during the raid.
The Haqqani Network/IMU commander “assists the networks with the acquisition, movement and employment [of] foreign fighters, including Iranians, and supplies to support Haqqani operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” the International Security Assistance Force said in a press release. ISAF uses the term “foreign fighters” to describe al Qaeda operatives.
The Haqqani Network, a Taliban subgroup that operates in the Afghan east as well as in Pakistan’s Taliban-controlled tribal agencies of North Waziristan and Kurram, is known to shelter top IMU commanders and fighters. Both the Haqqani Network and the IMU are closely allied with al Qaeda and carry out joint operations with the terror group. And both Sirajuddin Haqqani, the operational commander of the Haqqani Network, and Abu Usman Adil, the leader of the IMU, sit on al Qaeda’s Shura Majlis, or executive council.
The IMU is known to move foreign fighters from Iran into Afghanistan. In September 2010, ISAF reported announced that during a raid in the Chahar Darah district in Kunduz province, special operations forces captured an IMU “foreign fighter facilitator” who “maintains ties to local Taliban as well as Iranian-based Uzbek Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan facilitators.”
In addition, the Islamic Jihad Group, an IMU offshoot, is known for “coordinating the movement of foreign fighters from Iran and Pakistan into Afghanistan.” On Feb. 10, ISAF captured an IJU facilitator during a raid in the Dowlatabad district of Balkh province.
The Islamic Jihad Group is also entrenched in the Afghan east. Between 2008 and 2010, ISAF carried out six raids in Khost province against Haqqani Network operatives linked to the IJG.
Background on the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan in the region
The leadership cadre of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan is based in Pakistan’s Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan, and operates primarily along the Afghan-Pakistani border and in northern Afghanistan. According to one estimate, more than 3,000 Uzbeks and other Central Asian fighters are sheltering in North Waziristan.
Since Sept. 1, the US has ramped up airstrikes against the terror groups in North Waziristan, with 69 strikes Predator strikes in the area. Many of the strikes targeted cells run by the Islamic Jihad Group, an IMU offshoot, which were plotting to conduct Mumbai-styled terror assaults in Europe. A Sept. 8 strike killed an IJG commander known as Qureshi, who specialized in training Germans to conduct attacks in their home country.
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 fighters often serve as bodyguards for top Pakistani Taliban and al Qaeda leaders. The IMU fights alongside the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and has stepped up attacks in Central Asian countries as well.