The International Security Assistance Force killed a senior commander of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan who also serves as the Taliban’s shadow governor in the northern province of Takhar.
ISAF attacked the commander after intelligence assets indicated he was “traveling in a sedan on a series of remote roads” in the district of Rustaq in Takhar earlier today. A senior US intelligence official told The Long War Journal that the senior commander was Mohammed Amin, and said he was killed during the strike.
Mohammed Amin’s car is thought to have been part of a six-vehicle convoy, according to an ISAF press release. Strike aircraft “conducted a precision air strike on one sedan and later followed with direct fire from an aerial platform.” Between eight to 12 “insurgents,” including a Taliban commander, were killed or wounded during the attack, ISAF estimated.
But a spokesman for the provincial government claimed that 10 election workers were killed and a candidate for parliament was wounded in the strike. ISAF is investigating reports that civilians may have been killed during the strike.
Amin “regularly coordinates and conducts attacks with known IMU and Taliban insurgents, and traveled from Pakistan to Takhar this spring.”
His dual role as the deputy shadow governor of Takhar as well as an IMU commander highlights the interconnectedness of the Taliban and al Qaeda and Central and South Asian terror groups. In the past, ISAF has identified several Taliban commanders who have also served as top leaders for al Qaeda and the IMU in Afghanistan.
Recently, ISAF killed Abu Baqir, “a dual-hatted Taliban sub-commander and al Qaeda group leader,” who also was a member of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. Abu Baqir was based in Kunduz province. ISAF has also been hunting Qari Zia Rahman, who is the Taliban’s top regional commander in the northeast as well as a senior military leader in al Qaeda. He operates in Kunar and neighboring Nuristan province in Afghanistan, and he also operates across the border in Pakistan’s tribal agency of Bajaur. Qari Zia is closely allied with Faqir Mohammed as well as with Osama bin Laden. Qari Zia’s fighters are from Chechnya, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and various Arab nations.
Over the past month, ISAF has put the pressure on Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan commanders in northern Afghanistan. ISAF has conducted multiple raids in an effort to kill or capture IMU commanders and operatives in Kunduz and Takhar [see LWJ report Senior Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan commander targeted in northern Afghanistan, and Threat Matrix report ISAF continues to hunt IMU commanders in Kunduz for more details].
The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan is an al Qaeda affiliate that operates both in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The IMU is most active in the Afghan north and east. The IMU’s former leader, Tahir Yuldashev, was killed in a US Predator airstrike in South Waziristan in September 2009. Yuldashev sat on al Qaeda’s top council, the Shura Majlis. He has been replaced by Abu Usman Adil.
The Taliban have also made inroads in Takhar and in neighboring Badakhshan. Security in both provinces has deteriorated over the past year as US forces have withdrawn from remote districts in nearby Kunar and Nuristan provinces. Attacks against the government, Afghan security forces, and civilians have spiked in Badakhshan and Takhar. The most egregious attack took place in early August in Badakhshah. Both the Taliban and Hizb-i-Islami Gulbuddin claimed that their forces killed 10 medical workers, including eight foreigners, in an ambush in the province.
• Coalition forces conduct precision strike against senior IMU member in Takhar province, ISAF press release
• US strike kills ‘dual-hatted’ al Qaeda and Taliban commander in northern Afghanistan, The Long War Journal
• Senior Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan commander targeted in northern Afghanistan, The Long War Journal
• ISAF continues to hunt IMU commanders in Kunduz, Threat Matrix
• Afghan, US forces hunt al Qaeda, Taliban in northeast, The Long War Journal
• US hunts wanted Taliban and al Qaeda commander in Kunar, The Long War Journal
• Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan confirms leader Tahir Yuldashev killed, The Long War Journal
• Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan names Abu Usman as new leader, The Long War Journal
• Hizb-i-Islami, Taliban both claim killing 10 medical workers in northern Afghanistan, The Long War Journal
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