Last night Coalition and Afghan special operations forces again targeted the leadership cadre of the al Qaeda-linked Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan during a raid in the northwestern province of Faryab. The IMU facilitator who was killed in the raid had previously been in Afghan custody for murdering two members of a Provincial Reconstruction Team and two civilians, but spent only six months in jail before being released.
The combined special operations team killed Ammar Sahib, who was also known as Qyamuddin, during a raid in the district of Maimana. The International Security Assistance Force said Ammar Sahib was shot and killed by Afghan soliders after he “confronted them with an AK-47.” Two of his associates were detained “and are scheduled to be turned over to National Defense Security officials.”
ISAF described Ammar Sahib as “a senior Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan … facilitator” who “provided weapons, ammunition, and equipment to IMU terrorists across northern Afghanistan for attacks against Afghan and Coalition security forces.” ISAF again described the IMU as “a terrorist organization closely linked to al Qaeda and the Taliban.”
Ammar Sahib “also recruited suicide bombers for attacks against Afghan officials and coordinated with IMU leaders in Pakistan for newly trained fighters.” ISAF said he was involved in the April 4 suicide attack in Maimana that killed three US soldiers, five Afghan civilians, and four Afghan policemen.
Ammar Sahib also “worked” with Makhdum Nusrat and Osmani Sahib; both had served, respectively, as the IMU’s top commander in Afghanistan before their deaths during raids in Faryab over the past three weeks. Makhdum Nusrat was killed in the Shirin Tageb district on March 26, and Osmani Sahib was killed in the same district on April 7.
ISAF said that the IMU facilitator killed today had been in custody in 2006 for “a bombing in Faryab province that killed two Afghan civilians and two members of the local Provincial Reconstruction Team.”
“He was sentenced to 20 years in prison but only served six months,” the press release continued. No reason was given for his early release from Afghan custody. The Afghan government routinely releases prisoners from custody before they have completed their sentences.
Ammar Sahib’s death sparked violent protests in Faryab that resulted in the deaths of four civilians and the wounding of dozens more, according to TOLOnews, which described Sahib as a “local Sharia law professor and tribal elder.” Local mullahs are said to have organized the protests.
The “Deputy Chairman of the Faryab Clerics Council, Ghulam Nabi Ghafoori, blamed Governor Abdul Haq Shafaq for the death” of Ammar, according to TOLOnews.
ISAF has stepped up its targeting of the IMU’s leadership cadre over the past several months. Coalition and Afghan commandos have targeted top IMU leaders in 11 raids in Badakhshan, Faryab, Kunduz, and Takhar provinces since Jan. 29. Five of those raids have taken place in Faryab.
The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan is a key ally of al Qaeda and the Taliban, and supports operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as plots attacks in Europe. The IMU is known to fight alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan and has integrated into the Taliban’s shadow government in the north [for more information on the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, see LWJ report, IMU cleric urges Pakistanis to continue sheltering jihadis in Waziristan].