Coalition and Afghan special operations forces captured a leader of the al Qaeda-linked Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan during a raid today in northern Afghanistan. The IMU leader, who was involved with assassinations and suicide operations, is the second commander from the group to have been targeted in the district in the past three days.
The IMU leader was detained along with two other “insurgents” during today’s raid in the Imam Sahib district in Kunduz province.
The IMU commander, who was not named, “planned and conducted suicide attacks against Afghan and coalition troops throughout the province and is suspected in a plot to assassinate a senior Afghan government official,” the International Security Assistance Force stated in a press release announcing his capture.
Coalition and Afghan special operations forces have targeted two different IMU commanders in Imam Sahib over the past three days, ISAF’s Joint Command media operations desk told The Long War Journal. On May 1, ISAF announced that it targeted an IMU commander who “plans and directs attacks against senior Afghan government officials, Afghan National Security Forces and coalition troops.”
“Those [press] releases do not reference the same IMU leader,” IJC stated, referring to the May 1 and May 3 releases announcing the raids against IMU commanders. “Due to operational security concerns, no further info on either person is available for release at this time.”
Imam Sahib has long harbored the IMU and al Qaeda. Special operations forces have targeted IMU’s leadership in Imam Sahib in seven raids since May 2011, according to ISAF press releases that have been compiled by The Long War Journal.
Kunduz province is a known haven for al Qaeda and allied terror groups. The presence of IMU and al Qaeda cells has been detected in six of Kunduz’s seven districts: Aliabad, Archi, Chahar Darah, Imam Sahib, Khanabad, and Kunduz; according to an investigation by The Long War Journal. Since May 2009, special operations forces have conducted 46 raids against the IMU and al Qaeda in Kunduz.
During a raid in Aliabad in August 2010, special operations forces killed Abu Baqir, who was described by ISAF as “a dual-hatted Taliban sub-commander and al Qaeda group leader.”
The IMU continues to maintain a close working relationship with al Qaeda, the Taliban, and the Haqqani Network. The Pakistan-based terror group has integrated into the Taliban’s shadow government in the north, and conducts operations with the Haqqani Network in the east. In addition, the IMU has been involved in several high-profile suicide attacks and assassinations in Kabul and in the north.
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 and associates in 17 raids in Badakhshan, Baghlan, Faryab, Kunduz, Takhar, Logar, and Wardak provinces since Jan. 29. Two of those raids have taken place this month, nine occurred in April, and four in March. In the course of those raids, special operations forces have killed the IMU’s past two commanders for Afghanistan; the raids have also resulted in the capture of three senior facilitators and the death of another.
For more information on the IMU, see LWJ reports, IMU cleric urges Pakistanis to continue sheltering jihadis in Waziristan, and ISAF captures IMU facilitator in Wardak province.