Coalition and Afghan special operations forces attempted to capture a senior Haqqani Network operative who is linked to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan’s leadership cadre in Pakistan.
The combined special operation team targeted the “senior Haqqani facilitator” during a raid on April 23 in the Baraki Barak district of Logar province, the International Security Assistance Force stated in a press release. The commandos “captured several insurgents” during the raid, but the Haqqani facilitator has not been identified as being in custody.
The Haqqani facilitator is “suspected of providing weapons and ammunition to insurgents for a planned attack against Afghan government officials, Afghan security forces and coalition security forces in Kabul City.”
Although not stated by ISAF, the Haqqani facilitator is likely a part of the the Kabul Attack Network, the terror alliance that is tasked with striking at key targets in and around the Afghan capital. The Kabul Attack Network is made up of fighters from the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, and Hizb-i-Islami Gulbuddin, and cooperates with terror groups such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba and al Qaeda. Top Afghan intelligence officials have linked the Kabul Attack Network to Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate as well. The network’s tentacles extend outward from Kabul into the surrounding provinces of Logar, Wardak, Nangarhar, Kapisa, Ghazni, and Zabul, a US intelligence official told The Long War Journal two years ago.
Afghan, ISAF, and US officials have accused the Haqqani Network of executing the multi-pronged terror assault launched by the Taliban across four Afghan provinces on April 15. The coordinated attacks, which lasted nearly 18 hours, occurred in Kabul, Logar, Paktia, and Nangarhar provinces and left 51 people dead; 36 of them were militants. Other similar attacks in Kabul over the past several years, including the September 2011 assault on ISAF headquarters, the US embassy, and other facilities in the capital, have been tied to the Haqqani Network and its primary backer, Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate.
In addition to supporting attacks in the Afghan capital, ISAF said the targeted Haqqani Network facilitator “has ties to the Pakistan-based leaders of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.” The IMU is known to be headquartered in Pakistan’s Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan, but also has a presence in other Pakistani tribal areas.
The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan is a key ally of al Qaeda and the Taliban, and supports operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as plots attacks in Europe. The IMU is known to fight alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan and has integrated into the Taliban’s shadow government in the north [for more information on the IMU, see LWJ report, IMU cleric urges Pakistanis to continue sheltering jihadis in Waziristan]. The IMU and the Islamic Jihad Group, an IMU splinter faction, are known to operate in the southeastern Afghan provinces of Khost, Paktia, Paktika, Ghazni, and Zabul. Both groups are allied with the Haqqani Network.
Last year, special operations forces conducted three raids against Haqqani Network leaders who are closely tied to the IMU. A raid in Ghazni province in April 2011 resulted in the capture of a facilitator who “worked for both Haqqani and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan leaders” in the Orgun district in Paktika province. Another raid in Paktika province in April 2011 targeted a Haqqani Network/IMU facilitator who “assists the networks with the acquisition, movement and employment [of] foreign fighters, including Iranians, and supplies to support Haqqani operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan.” And in August 2011, special operations forces captured a senior Haqqani Network commander in Khost province who was “the second-in-charge for Haqqani operations in Paktia” province and who commanded a large group of fighters, including “Uzbek foreign fighters.”
The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan has been linked to major suicide attacks in and around Kabul over the past several years: the May 19, 2010 suicide assault on Bagram Air Base; the October 2011 suicide attack that targeted an armored bus in Kabul; and the October 2011 suicide assault on a Provincial Reconstruction Team base in Panjshir. On April 18 this year, ISAF targeted an IMU leader in Baghlan who “is responsible for multiple attacks against Afghan and coalition forces in northern Afghanistan” and “is also suspected in plotting bombings and suicide attacks in Kabul.”
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