A US airstrike in Pakistan’s Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan killed an al Qaeda commander and a dozen members of the Islamic Jihad Group.
Ahmed was an al Qaeda military commander who led fighters against NATO and Afghan forces across the border in Afghanistan, a US intelligence official told The Long War Journal. The majority of the 12 Islamic Jihad Group fighters killed are said to be from Turkey.
In the four airstrikes against insurgents in North Waziristan that have taken place since June 10, the US has killed three mid-level al Qaeda military commanders. A June 10 strike in the town of Norak in North Waziristan killed Sheikh Ihsanullah, an “Arab al Qaeda military commander,” and Ibrahim, the commander of the Fursan-i-Mohammed Group. A Turkish foreign fighter was also killed in the attack. The deaths of Ihsanullah and Ibrahim were announced by the Taifatul Mansura Group, or the Victorious Sect, a transnational Turkish jihadist group that operates along the Afghan-Pakistani border.
The 12 insurgents killed today alongside the al Qaeda commander were from the Islamic Jihad Group (or Islamic Jihad Union), a splinter faction of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. The Islamic Jihad Group is based out of the Mir Ali region and maintains close ties with al Qaeda leader Abu Kasha al Iraqi and North Waziristan Taliban commander Hafiz Gul Bahadar. It is a Specially Designated Global Terrorist organization.
German and Turkish Muslims make up a significant portion of the Islamic Jihad Group. Its fighters are often referred to as German Taliban, and they carry out attacks in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Last year, the Islamic Jihad Group released video of ‘German Taliban villages’ in Waziristan. Its fighters were seen training at camps and conducting military operations.
German members of the Islamic Jihad Group 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.
Americans have also joined the Islamic Jihad Group. Over the past year, two American jihadists, Abu Ibrahim al Amriki and Sayfullah al Amriki, have been featured in propaganda released by the Islamic Jihad Group.
The Islamic Jihad Group has been the target of several US airstrikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas. The US killed Najmuddin Jalolov, the leader of the Islamic Jihad Group, in a Predator airstrike in North Waziristan on Sept. 14, 2009.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.