ISAF kills senior IMU leader in Afghan north

Coalition and Afghan special operations teams killed a senior leader of the al Qaeda-linked Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan during a raid two days ago.

Nurullah Bai, who was described by the International Security Assistance Force as “a high-ranking Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan leader,” was killed during a raid on Jan. 25 in Takhar province in northern Afghanistan. Bai was killed along with “several armed combatants.” Two “insurgents” were also detained during the raid.

“He maintained close connections with the Taliban shadow governor for Takhar province, al Qaeda facilitators, and other IMU insurgents in the area,” ISAF stated.

Bai “coordinated the district Taliban leader’s movements, distributes funds, facilitates ammunition deliveries, and was involved in a drug trafficking network between Badakhshan province and Tajikistan,” ISAF stated. He also specialized in IED attacks against Afghan government officials in the north.

Bai is the second terrorist leader killed in Takhar this week who has been linked to al Qaeda. On Jan. 24, special operations teams killed Hafiz, a Taliban leader who has ties to an al Qaeda facilitator operating in the province.

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. The Taliban, the IMU, and al Qaeda seek to expand their control of the Afghan north, and use the region to interdict ISAF’s newly established supply lines from Tajikistan as well as to launch attacks into Uzbekistan.

Since late August 2010, Coalition and Afghan forces have carried out nine 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.

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.

Jan. 25, 2011: Special operations forces killed Nurullah Bai, an IMU leader who had close ties to the Taliban and al Qaeda in the north.

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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