Coalition and Afghan special operations forces killed the newly appointed leader for the al Qaeda-linked Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan’s forces in Afghanistan during a raid in the northwest several days ago.
The International Security Assistance Force confirmed that it killed Osmani Sahib, who had been appointed to lead the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan’s operations after his predecessor, Makhdum Nusrat, was killed in a raid in the Shirin Tagab district in Faryab province on March 26.
Osmani “was one of multiple IMU members killed in an exchange of fire that resulted from the insurgents’ attempt to attack the combined Afghan and coalition force during the operation,” which took place on April 7 in the Almar district in Faryab. In the press release announcing Nusrat’s death, ISAF described the IMU as “a terrorist organization closely linked to al Qaeda and the Taliban.”
ISAF had initially stated on April 7 that the combined special operations force captured an Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan financier and killed “multiple insurgents.” ISAF said the IMU facilitator “provided funds for attacks against Afghan and Coalition security forces throughout the province [see LWJ report, ISAF captures IMU suicide attack facilitator, financier in raids in Afghan north].
ISAF has stepped up the targeting of the IMU’s leadership cadre over the past month. Coalition and Afghan commandos have targeted top IMU leaders in nine raids in Badakhshan, Faryab, Kunduz, and Takhar provinces since Jan. 29.
ISAF and Afghan forces have killed the IMU’s top commander in Afghanistan three times since April 2011. Nusrat’s predecessor was killed during a raid in Kunduz province in April 2011. He served as “a key conduit between the senior IMU leadership in Pakistan and senior Taliban leadership in Afghanistan,” and aided in suicide, IED, and other attacks by the IMU in the north, according to ISAF. He had been freed from a Pakistani jail in 2010 and immediately returned to lead forces in Afghanistan [see LWJ report, ISAF captures Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan’s top commander for Afghanistan].
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 Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, see LWJ report, IMU cleric urges Pakistanis to continue sheltering jihadis in Waziristan].
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.