Islamic Jihad Union details cooperation with Afghan Taliban

The al Qaeda-linked Islamic Jihad Union (IJU) released a video that discusses the training of its fighters, shows cooperation with the Afghan Taliban and attacks in several provinces, and provides the names of operatives killed during fighting in Afghanistan.

The video, titled “The Path to Paradise, Part 6,” was released to jihadist websites in early December 2011 by Badr al-Tawhid, “the media arm of the Islamic Jihad Union,” according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which translated the video.

“The first part of the video shows new fighters receiving training in firearms, explosives, and heavy weapons at an IJU camp in 2009-2010, while the second shows the fighters applying this training to clashes and strikes against NATO-led ISAF forces and Afghan soldiers in Khost, Kunduz, and Paktia provinces,” a summary provided by SITE stated.

The “mujahideen of the Khorasan” fighters are trained in light and heavy weapons, and the narrator claimed the group is employing snipers in greater numbers after “(o)bserving that the tactic is very useful inside and outside the city areas of Iraq.”

“Some [of the IJU fighters] are interested in chemical explosives, and others work on creating new remote-controlled explosives,” the narrator continued.

“Their training and their experience during the jihadi activities in Afghanistan and Pakistan will someday certainly help a lot when it is time to help their brothers and sisters in Central Asia,” the narrator of the Islamic Jihad Union propaganda tape said.

The narrator explained that IJU members fight and train with local Taliban groups in the Afghan north and east, and named specific provinces where IJU fighters are deployed.

“In this jihadi season of the year, the emigrants will fight shoulder to shoulder with the poor mujahideen against the Crusaders and their local henchmen in several areas of Afghanistan,” he said. “During the time when the lists of the names of those who will be sent to the jihadi fields are being formed, every mujahid goes to his commander to request that his name be on the list. The chosen mujahideen are sent to various jihadi battlefields such as [the Afghan provinces of] Paktika, Ghazni, Kandahar, Paktia, Helmand, Nuristan, Badakhshan, Kunduz, and Mazar-e-Sharif, according to their skills.”

“The mujahideen do not only stay in the southern provinces but they also help the Taliban in northern Afghanistan and provide them with military consultation,” the IJU narrator continued. “Neighboring Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, northern Afghanistan is strategically a very important region for the Muslims of Central Asia.”

The IJU narrator also said that “the emigrant mujahideen, with the cooperation with Taliban, invite the local people. They also train the local Uzbek, Tajik and Pashto mujahideen and teach them the best tactics of doing jihad. Thus, the emigrant mujahideen are sent to the region during all seasons. Compared to the previous years, this year more mujahideen were sent to the provinces of Mazar-e-Sharif and Kunduz.”

The IJU’s list of provinces in which they claim to fight closely matches with the International Security Assistance Force’s reports on raids against the terror group. Since 2008, ISAF has reported on 19 raids against the IJU, in the provinces of Paktia, Paktia, Khost, Kunduz, and Balkh (Mazar-e-Sharif is the main city in this province).

At the end of the videotape, the IJU listed the names of fighters killed. The names indicate that the fighters came from Turkey, Turkistan, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Pakistan.

Background on the Islamic Jihad Union

The Islamic Jihad Union (also known as the Islamic Jihad Group) is a splinter faction of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, another al Qaeda-linked terror group that operates along the Afghan-Pakistani border. The IJU is based out of the Mir Ali region and maintains close ties with al Qaeda leader Abu Kasha al Iraqi, and with North Waziristan Taliban commander Hafiz Gul Bahadar, who controls the Datta Khel region. It is a Specially Designated Global Terrorist organization.

Central Asians, Turks, and Germans make up a significant portion of the IJU. The German fighters are often referred to as German Taliban, and they carry out attacks in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. In 2009, the Islamic Jihad IJU released video of ‘German Taliban villages’ in Waziristan. Its fighters were seen training at camps and conducting military operations.

German members of the Islamic Jihad Union have been killed in combat inside Pakistan. Eric Breininger, a German man who converted to Islam, was killed while assaulting a Pakistani military outpost in North Waziristan on April 28, 2010. Three Uzbek fighters were also killed in the attack. Breininger was wanted for plotting attacks against US military bases and personnel in Germany.

Americans have also joined the Islamic Jihad Union. In recent years, two American jihadists, Abu Ibrahim al Amriki and Sayfullah al Amriki, have been featured in propaganda released by the Islamic Jihad Group (another name for the IJU).

The Islamic Jihad Union has been the target of several US airstrikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas. The US killed Najmuddin Jalolov, the leader of the Islamic Jihad Union, in a Predator airstrike in North Waziristan on Sept. 14, 2009. Turkish members of the IJU were reported killed along with an al Qaeda commander in a US Predator strike in North Waziristan on June 19, 2010. And on Sept. 8, 2010, US drones killed Qureshi, an IJU commander who trained Germans to conduct attacks in their home country.

Earlier this month, the US added Mevlut Kar, a dual German and Turkish citizen who is also known as Mevlut Zikara, to the list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists. Kar was a member of the IJU cell that attempted to attack US military personnel and civilians in Germany in 2007. The targets of the attack included Ramstein Air Base and Frankfurt International Airport. Three members of the cell were arrested before the plot was executed.

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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