ISAF captures senior IMU and Taliban military commander

During a raid in the southern Afghan province of Helmand, Coalition and Afghan special operations forces captured a dual-hatted Taliban and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan commander who directed operations in the northwest.

The commander, who was not named, was captured today by a combined Afghan and Coalition special operations team in the Nahr-e-Saraj district in Helmand.

The International Security Assistance Force described him as “a Taliban-appointed deputy and head of the insurgent group’s military commission in Badghis province” in northwestern Afghanistan. He “arranged large-scale attacks, distributed weapons and collected taxes.”

Additionally, he “represented both the Taliban and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan groups and was responsible for coordinating insurgent activities in Badghis and Faryab province.”

The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan is an al Qaeda-linked terror group that operates primarily in northern and eastern Afghanistan, as well as in Pakistan’s tribal areas. It is closely allied to the Taliban and the Haqqani Network. In the north, IMU leaders have integrated into the Taliban’s shadow government. [For more information on the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and its activities in Afghanistan and Pakistan, see LWJ report, IMU cleric urges Pakistanis to continue sheltering jihadis in Waziristan.]

The unnamed Taliban and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan commander is the second senior IMU leader killed or captured in the past six days. On Jan. 29, ISAF and Afghan forces killed Ilhom, an IMU commander who “facilitated the training of suicide bombers for attacks” in Takhar province and was responsible for last year’s Christmas Day suicide attack at a funeral in Taloqan that killed 20 Afghans, including Abdul Mutalib Baig, a member of parliament.

For a seven-week period prior to its report of Ilhom’s death, ISAF Joint Command (IJC) had stopped reporting on raids that targeted IMU and al Qaeda leaders and fighters. [See LWJ report, Afghan, ISAF troops kill IMU leader in north, for more details.] The day following the report of Illhom’s death, IJC reported that an al Qaeda facilitator had been captured.

IJC would not explain the reason for its lack of press reports on the targeting of al Qaeda or IMU leaders in the period from Dec. 9, 2011 to Jan. 28, 2012, but told The Long War Journal that the gap in reporting should not be interpreted “as lack of operational rigor against those entities.”

Nor would IJC would answer The Long War Journal’s inquiries that asked if ISAF forces conducted any unreported operations against al Qaeda or the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan during the period from Dec. 9, 2011 to Jan. 28, 2012.

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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