ISAF is standing by its story that a senior commander in the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan was killed in an airstrike in Takhar province on Sept. 2. The commander, Mohammed Amin, was also the Taliban’s deputy shadow governor of Takhar. From ISAF, and note that the investigation was held in conjunction with the Afghan defense and interior ministries:
A joint assessment team composed of representatives from the ministries of interior and defense, and International Security Assistance Force officials, completed an assessment of possible civilian casualties in an operation in the Takhar province Sept 2.
The team determined the intended target of the operation was in the vehicle that was struck in the air strike, but could not rule out the possibility of civilian casualties in the strike.
“We are very confident that the targeted individual was in the vehicle struck by the air weapons team and was killed. The question remains why an election official or candidate was traveling with a known terrorist,” said Italian Army Brig. Gen. Luigi Scollo, ISAF Joint Command operations chief and team lead.
The target of the operation was Muhammad Amin, an Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan senior member, and assessed to be the deputy shadow governor for Takhar province. Also in the vehicle was a Taliban commander, with other passengers who were carrying weapons.
Initial media reports indicated the vehicle struck was part of an election party. However, after reviewing the air weapons system video, the team saw no evidence of political campaign material on the outside of the vehicle.
“The information that led to this strike was extremely accurate. Intelligence had tracked Amin traveling in a sedan on a series of remote roads in Rustaq District. He was in a six vehicle convoy, and only the vehicle he was in was hit. It was selective, surgical and legitimate,” said Scollo.
As an aside, Josh Foust should follow up his article published on Sept. 3 at the Columbia Journalism Review. Foust, in his inimitable style, mocked the LWJ report and cast doubts on ISAF’s claim that the IMU commander was killed. He also questioned my report of Mohammed Amin’s name, which I obtained via a confidential source. But one day after Foust published his criticism, ISAF named Amin (which Foust did note here). Perhaps Foust should ask why a small outlet like LWJ scooped major news outlets by confidently naming Amin, and in the end, got this story right. Surely that would be an issue that would interest readers of the Columbia Journalism Review.
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