Two days ago, Coalition and Afghan forces killed and captured several Taliban fighters during a raid that targeted a commander who is linked to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and commands more than 80 foreign terrorists in northern Afghanistan.
The Taliban commander, who was not named, was targeted by the combined special forces team in the Burkah district in Baghlan province. During the raid, “several suspected insurgents” were killed and one more was detained.
The Taliban commander leads “approximately 80 foreign fighters of Uzbek, Chechen and Tajik descent,” the International Security Assistance Force stated in a press release.
“He is also involved in the recruitment and training of suicide bombers and is associated with several members of the Taliban and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan,” ISAF stated. The commander’s unit had received training in the manufacture of roadside bombs, or IEDs, from “Uzbekistani nationals.” His team “had already placed approximately 20 IEDs in the Burkah district targeting Afghan and coalition forces.”
The March 8 raid in Baghlan is the first against the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan reported by ISAF since Jan. 25, when Nurullah Bai, a high-ranking leader, was killed during a raid in neighboring Takhar province.
Al Qaeda and the allied Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan maintain a strong presence in the northern Afghan provinces of Baghlan, Kunduz, and Takhar. And top leaders of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan have integrated into the Taliban’s shadow government in these three northern provinces.
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 that jihadis from Central Asia, including “Chechnya, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Russia,” make up a significant portion of the fighters in the the Afghan north and that 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.”
In late January 2011, Afghan police in Kunduz said they were looking for 15 Chechen women in the northern Afghan province who are aiding the Taliban. The women are either serving as nurses or “are experts in making roadside bombs and suicide vests.”