A screen shot from an Islamic Jihad Group video that shows the training of children for jihad. Image courtesy of The Jawa Report.
A senior commander in the al Qaeda-linked Islamic Jihad Group is thought to have been killed in one of four Predator airstrikes carried out yesterday by the US in Pakistan’s Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan.
The “Uzbek commander” who is known as Qureshi is believed to have been killed in the second of two airstrikes that took place in the Datta Khel area in North Waziristan, according to a report in Adnkronos International. The US also launched two other attacks yesterday on targets on the outskirts of Miramshah, the main town in the tribal agency.
Qureshi “used to receive foreigners especially the Germans in North Waziristan and then train them and resend them to their country of origins,” according to AKI.
US intelligence officials contacted by The Long War Journal said they were aware of reports of Qureshi’s death and were seeking to verify. The officials would not comment on the target of the strikes. AKI reported that members of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a Pakistani terror group that is closely allied with al Qaeda and receives support from elements of Pakistan’s military and intelligence service, were targeted along with the Islamic Jihad Group.
The Islamic Jihad Group (also known as the Islamic Jihad Union) is 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 with North Waziristan Taliban commander Hafiz Gul Bahadar, who controls the Datta Khel region. 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 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.
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.