During a raid in the northern province of Takhar yesterday, Coalition and Afghan special operations forces killed a Taliban commander linked to al Qaeda.
The Taliban commander, known as Hafiz, “had ties with an al Qaeda facilitator” in the Afghan north, the International Security Assistance Force said in a press release. “He assisted Pakistan-based Taliban facilitators by moving money, weapons, ammunition and fighters from Kunduz province to Takhar province.”
Hafiz was “closely associated” with the Darqad shadow district governor and the Takhar shadow governor. He served as a commander in the district of Darqad and “led attacks against local Afghan village security forces,” ISAF stated.
Al Qaeda and the allied Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan maintain a strong presence in the northern Afghan provinces of Takhar, Kunduz, and Baghlan. In Takhar, the presence of al Qaeda and the IMU has been detected in the districts of Darqad, Ishkamish, Khwajah Bahawuddin, and Rustaq, or four of the province’s 12 districts, according to an investigation by The Long War Journal.
Top leaders of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan have integrated into the Taliban’s shadow government in the northern provinces of Kunduz, Baghlan, and Takhar.
Since late August 2010, Coalition and Afghan forces have carried out eight raids against al Qaeda and IMU-linked Taliban leaders in the north. Several top Taliban and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan leaders were killed or captured during the raids [see list below].
Al Qaeda and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan have been establishing strongholds in the Afghan north. The IMU has camps in Kunduz province, a Taliban commander from Baghlan named Mustafa recently told the Asia Times. The Taliban commander said jihadis from Central Asia, including “Chechnya, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Russia” make up a significant portion of the fighters in the the Afghan north, and they are setting their sights on the neighboring country of Uzbekistan.
“I can tell you that there is an active connection between the Central Asian command and the Taliban in northern Afghanistan and they often join us, but how they connect, this is beyond my level,” Mustafa told Asia Times. “Our superior commanders are in touch with their counterparts in Central Asia and if somebody arrives in Afghanistan or goes to Central Asia from Afghanistan, it is arranged at a senior leadership level.”
Raids against al Qaeda and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan in Takhar province since August 2010
Aug. 27, 2010: Special forces targeted an “extremist” linked to the Taliban and the IMU in Kunduz. He and several al Qaeda operatives moved to Takhar from Pakistan.
Sept. 2, 2010: Coalition aircraft killed Mohammed Amin, a senior leader of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan who also served as the deputy provincial shadow governor.
Sept. 3, 2010: Special operations forces captured the Taliban’s military commissioner for six of Takhar’s districts. The commissioner facilitated foreign fighter suicide bombers.
Sept. 3, 2010: Special operations forces killed Attallah, the Taliban’s shadow district governor of Darqad district, who maintained contact with senior Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan leaders in Pakistan and in the Afghan provinces of Takhar, Kunduz, and Baghlan.
Sept. 26, 2010: During a raid in Takhar, special operations forces targeted a Taliban facilitator associated with several al Qaeda, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, and Taliban leaders operating in Baghlan province.
Oct. 5, 2010: During a raid in Takhar, special operations forces captured Saifullah, the Taliban district leader for Kunduz’s Chahar Darah district. Saifullah maintained close ties with senior Taliban and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan leadership in northern Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Oct. 26, 2010: Coalition aircraft killed Qari Mahmad Umar, an Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan senior leader, who was serving as the Taliban district leader for Khwajah Bahawuddin.
Jan. 24, 2011: Special operations forces killed Hafiz, a Taliban leader, who had ties with an al Qaeda facilitator.
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