ISAF targets another senior IMU leader in Afghan north
Coalition and Afghan special operations forces have gone after yet another commander for the al Qaeda-linked Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. From the ISAF press release:
An Afghan and coalition security force conducted an operation to arrest an Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan senior leader in Chahar Darah district, Kunduz province, today. The IMU senior leader is responsible for planning and directing attacks against Afghan and coalition forces throughout the province. During the operation, a group of insurgents attacked the security force. The security force engaged the insurgents and killed two of them. The security force also detained numerous suspected insurgents and seized multiple weapons as a result of this operation.
It is unclear at the moment if the commander was captured; ISAF is likely sifting through the "numerous suspected insurgents" to determine if he is one of them.
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 24 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.]
Special operations forces have now conducted six 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.