ISAF captures IMU leader in Afghan north


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Map of Afghanistan's provinces. Click map to view larger image.

Coalition and Afghan special operations forces captured an Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan leader in the north. Special operations forces have targeted the al Qaeda and Taliban-linked IMU in 23 raids in Afghanistan this year.

Two "insurgents" were detained during a raid today that targeted an Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan leader in the Ishkamish district in Takhar province, the International Security Assistance Force stated in a press release. "The security force also seized several improvised explosive device components as a result of this operation," according to ISAF.

The IMU leader, who was not named, "controls a group of insurgents responsible for attacks throughout Kunduz province." ISAF confirmed that the IMU leader was captured one day after the raid.

Background on the IMU and raids in Takhar, Kunduz, and the north

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 IMU has been a prime target of special operations forces in Afghanistan. So far this year, special operations forces have conducted at least 23 raids against the IMU, in Badakhshan, Baghlan, Faryab, Logar, Helmand, Kunduz, Takhar, and Wardak, or eight of Afghanistan's 34 provinces, according to International Security Assistance Force press releases compiled by The Long War Journal.

This spring, ISAF killed the two previous IMU leaders for Afghanistan, in raids just a few weeks apart in Faryab province. [See LWJ report, Special operations forces kill newly appointed IMU leader for Afghanistan, for more information.]

Both Takhar and Kunduz have been hubs of IMU activity in the Afghan north. Three of the 23 raids this year have taken place in Takhar. In one raid, on Jan. 30, special operations forces killed Ilhom, an IMU leader who "facilitated the training of suicide bombers for attacks throughout the area" and was responsible for the last year's Christmas Day suicide attack at a funeral in Taloqan that killed 20 Afghans, including Abdul Mutalib Baig, a member of parliament.

Special operations forces have conducted five raids against the IMU in Kunduz province this year. In one raid, on July 7, two IMU leaders who served as explosives experts and specialized in making suicide and improvised explosive devices were captured in a raid in Kunduz district, Kunduz province. The IMU leaders are Afghans of Uzbek ethnicity and are linked to the group's top leadership.



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