Coalition and Afghan special operations teams recently targeted a senior Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan “facilitator” who is suspected of plotting attacks in the Afghan capital of Kabul.
The IMU “facilitator and explosives expert,” who has not been named, was targeted in a raid in the Baghlan-e Jadid district in Baghlan province on April 18, the International Security Assistance Force stated in a press release. The IMU commander was not captured, but one “insurgent” was detained and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher and several rockets were seized and destroyed.
ISAF said that the IMU facilitator “is responsible for multiple attacks against Afghan and coalition forces in northern Afghanistan” and “is also suspected in plotting bombings and suicide attacks in Kabul.”
The raid in Baghlan took place just two days after the Taliban launched a coordinated suicide assault in Kabul and the provincial capitals of Paktia, Logar, and Nangarhar provinces. Thirty-six Taliban fighters and 15 Afghan security personnel and civilians were killed during the 18-hour-long assault. The Haqqani Network has been identified as the culprit behind the attacks.
Yesterday, Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security intelligence service announced that it broke up a second plot that had aimed to launch attacks in Kabul. Three Pakistani nationals and two Afghans linked to the Tehrik-e-Taliban and the “Qari Baryal Group” were detained and 10,000 kilograms of explosives were seized by the NDS. The Qari Baryal Group has ties to the Hizb-i-Islami, the Taliban, and al Qaeda, and operates in Kapisa and Kunar provinces.
The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan has been linked to major suicide attacks in and around Kabul over the past several years: the May 19, 2010 suicide assault on Bagram Air Base; the October 2011 suicide attack that targeted an armored bus in Kabul; and the October 2011 suicide assault on a Provincial Reconstruction Team base in Panjshir.
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]. The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and the Islamic Jihad Group, an IMU splinter faction, are known to operate in the southeastern Afghan provinces of Khost, Paktia, Paktika, Ghazni, and Zabul, and are allied with the Haqqani Network [see LWJ report, ISAF detains senior Haqqani Network leader linked to the IMU].
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 13 raids in Badakhshan, Baghlan, Faryab, Kunduz, and Takhar provinces since Jan. 29. Seven of those raids took place this month and four occurred in March. During those raids, special operations forces have killed the IMU’s past two commanders for Afghanistan, and killed one senior facilitator and captured another.