The Islamic Jihad Union (IJU), an al Qaeda and Taliban-linked terrorist group that operates in Afghanistan and Pakistan, trumpeted its role in the current Taliban-led Azm offensive in Afghanistan as well as its involvement in battling Pakistani troops in North Waziristan.
The IJU promoted its operations in a statement that was released on its website on July 22. The statement begins by saying that the group “actively participates in complex operations” in both Afghanistan and in northwestern Pakistan. In Afghanistan, the IJU says it is “engaged in operations in southern Afghanistan, the eastern provinces of Paktika, Paktia, and Nangarhar, and also is operating in the northern provinces of Badakhshan and Kunduz.” In Pakistan, the group claims it is operating with the “North Waziristan Mujahideen,” likely a reference to several Taliban factions, including the Movement of the Talibain in Pakistan, the Hafiz Gul Bahadar Group, the Haqqani Network, al Qaeda, and other jihadist groups based there.
In both Afghanistan and Pakistan, the IJU “brothers carry out their work with the Taliban.”
In Badakhshan, the IJU reported that has sent its “first expedition” there and its fighters are involved in intelligence gathering and planning. In Kunduz, the group said that the “immigrant brothers are involved in education in the work of the conquest of Kunduz,” likely a reference to foreign militants attending training camps in the northern Afghan province. In Paktika, the jihadist group reported ambushing a group of Afghan soldiers in a mountainous region of the province. Three days before this ambush took place, however, the IJU claimed that it was able to destroy an Afghan Army Humvee with a rocket-propelled grenade. Additionally, the IJU claimed it attacked an Afghan military camp with the aid of “three Arab brothers,” likely a reference to al Qaeda.
The IJU also said that its snipers undertook more than 10 operations in recent days. An attack by “Mansour Turki” was highlighted. The location of the sniper operations was not disclosed.
The IJU also named eight of its fighters who were killed during the fighting in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The fighters come from the Central Asian countries of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan:
– Ja`far Kukes, a Kazakh, was killed while fighting Pakistani troops in Mirali, North Waziristan, a known stronghold of the IJU.
– Muhammad (a Kazakh), Mus`ab (a Tajik), and Sunnatullah (an Uzbek) were killed while fighting the “apostate Pakistani troops in the Waziristan region.”
– Ahmad (a Tajik), “was killed along with wife and two daughters” in a Pakistan Air Force airstrike in the “Waziristan region.”
– Elijah (a Kyrgyz) and Abu Khalid (an Uzbek) were killed in Mir Ali “as a result of US airstrikes.”
– Shuaib (an Uzbek), was killed while ambushing a group of Afghan security personnel in “northern Afghanistan,” likely in Kunduz.
The July 22 update from the IJU occurred one month after the group claimed that it, along with the Taliban, al Qaeda, and the Turkistan Islamic Party, “carried out a number of attacks” in eastern Afghanistan. In one attack, the jihadists attacked an Afghan military base killing “many apostate soldiers” before reinforcements arrived. In a mountainous region in eastern Afghanistan, the IJU said that it and al Qaeda carried out an attack on an Afghan outpost “destroying all defenses.”
The IJU has publicized its close ties to the Taliban in the past. In December 2011, the group released a video that discussed the training of its fighters, showed cooperation with the Afghan Taliban and attacks in several provinces, and provided the names of operatives killed during fighting in Afghanistan. [See LWJ report, Islamic Jihad Union details cooperation with Afghan Taliban.]
IJU is an established jihadist group in Afghanistan and Pakistan
The IJU (also known as the Islamic Jihad Group) is a splinter faction of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, and a substantial number of its members are from Central Asia. Prior to the Pakistani Army’s offensive in North Waziristan that began in June 2014, the IJU was based in Mir Ali.
The IJU has been waging jihad in the Afghan-Pakistan region for more than a decade. It maintains close ties with al Qaeda and Taliban leaders. The US government listed the group as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist organization in May 2005. Its members who are in custody “have testified to the close ties between the [IJU] leaders and Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar,” the US State department said in its designation.
The IJU’s network in Afghanistan has been on the US military’s radar. The former International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) documented 19 special operations raids against the IJU between 2007 and 2013. These are the raids that have been publicized, but there likely are more operations that have not been disclosed. [See LWJ report, ISAF raids against al Qaeda and allies in Afghanistan 2007-2013.]
German and Turkish Muslims make up a significant portion of the Islamic Jihad Group. Some of its fighters have been referred to as ‘German Taliban,’ and the group released a video in 2009 of ‘German Taliban villages’ in Waziristan. Its fighters were seen training at camps and conducting military operations.
German members of the Islamic Jihad Union have also been killed in combat inside Pakistan. Eric Breininger, a German man who converted to Islam, was killed while assaulting a Pakistani military outpost in North Waziristan on April 28. Three Uzbek fighters were also killed in the attack. Breininger was wanted for plotting attacks against US military bases and personnel in Germany.
Turkish members of the Islamic Jihad Group were also reported killed along with an al Qaeda commander in a US Predator strike in North Waziristan on June 19.
The Islamic Jihad Group has been the target of several US airstrikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas. The US killed Najmuddin Jalolov, the former leader of the group, in a Predator airstrike in North Waziristan on Sept. 14, 2009. Turkish members of the IJU were reported killed along with an al Qaeda commander in a US Predator strike in North Waziristan on June 19, 2010.
The IJU has not confined its attacks to the Afghan Pakistan region and Central Asia. On Sept. 8, 2010, US drones killed Qureshi, an IJU commander who trained Germans to conduct attacks in their home country. In February 2012, the US added Mevlut Kar, a dual German and Turkish citizen who is also known as Mevlut Zikara, to the list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists. Kar was a member of the IJU cell that attempted to attack US military personnel and civilians in Germany in 2007. The targets of the attack included Ramstein Air Base and Frankfurt International Airport. Three members of the cell were arrested before the plot could be executed.