ISAF kills, captures Taliban and IMU leaders in Afghan north

Coalition and Afghan special operations teams killed two leaders of the Taliban and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and detained another during separate raids in the northern Afghan province of Kunduz.

The two commanders who were killed were identified as Maulawi Zahir and Zabit Murchak. Both were killed during a Jan. 9 raid in Kunduz.

Zahir was the Taliban’s shadow governor of the district of Khanabad who facilitated the deployment of roadside bombs and other weapons in the area. “He maintained ties with several senior Taliban leaders who are in Pakistan,” the International Security Assistance Force stated in a press release.

Murchak served as a Taliban commander and an IMU leader in Kunduz and in neighboring Takhar province. “He is responsible for attacks on tribesmen in northern Afghanistan,” and was involved in the kidnapping of a Dutch aid worker, ISAF stated.

Murchak is the second IMU-linked leader killed in Kunduz in the past two weeks. On Dec. 30, 2010, ISAF and Afghan forces killed Bahadur, a top military commander and facilitator who maintained “close contact” with members of the IMU in Kunduz and neighboring Baghlan province.

The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan is an al Qaeda-affiliated group whose leadership cadre is based primarily in Pakistan’s Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan. The leader of the IMU is a member of al Qaeda’s Shura Majlis, or executive council. The IMU operates primarily along the Afghan-Pakistani border and in northern Afghanistan. According to one estimate, more than 3,000 Uzbeks and other Central Asian fighters are sheltering in North Waziristan.

Coalition and Afghan forces have killed and captured several senior-level IMU commanders during raids in the north, where the IMU has integrated its operations with the Taliban and some of IMU’s leaders also fill top-level positions in the shadow governments.

In a separate raid, on Jan. 8, ISAF captured “a Taliban facilitator involved in the planning and execution” of a suicide assault on an Army recruiting center in Kunduz on Dec. 19, 2010. Eight Afghan soldiers were killed in that attack, and five more soldiers were killed in an identical attack in Kabul that same day.

The facilitator, who was not named, “was directly associated with the Kunduz Taliban shadow governor and deputy shadow governor and maintains contact with other Taliban insurgents throughout Afghanistan,” according to ISAF.

Kunduz province is a known haven for al Qaeda, the IMU, and allied terror groups. The presence of terror cells has been detected in the districts of Aliabad, Chahar Darah, Khanabad, and Kunduz; or four of Kunduz’s seven districts, according to an investigation by The Long War Journal.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • Nick says:

    You forgot some things.
    “Qari Baryal, al-Qaida-associated Taliban leader was killed in a coalition air strike Jan. 7 in Kunar province. He was an active attack planner who led at least 25 fighters. Additionally, he maintained close contact with al-Qaida leaders and facilitators.”
    And, – he was killed, he was named Saifullah.
    Please make an article detailing, or at least ADD these details onto your current article. The caliber of the 5-6 leaders killed in the past 3 days is astonishing.
    Thank you, Bill.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    I am specifically discussing IMU-linked Taliban commanders in Kunduz killed in the last two weeks, and am not rounding up the Taliban leaders killed/captured over the last several weeks. Or the list would be longer. And I covered Qari Baryal here, discussing the AQ relation to Kunar:

  • Nick says:

    I understand now, I did not catch the previous articles that you had reported on. Nevertheless, you must admit that the capacity and intensity that these leaders are being killed/captured at is amazing, even in the dusk of the winter season there.
    Bill, one question though, somewhat off topic but it relates to the article. There are hundreds of drones being deployed in North Waziristan. Why do they only seem to strike in the main roads of Miranshah and Datta Khel? Can’t ISAF deploy these UAV’s to Northern Afghanistan, so they can more easily target IMU/AQ/TALIBAN there? Wouldn’t that seem like a logical thing to do? Why haven’t they done that yet?


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