Coalition and Afghan forces targeted yet another Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan commander in the northern province of Kunduz. From today’s ISAF press release announcing the raid:
An Afghan and coalition security force detained numerous suspected insurgents during an operation to arrest an Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) explosives expert in Archi district, Kunduz province, today. The IMU explosives expert directs improvised explosive device attacks against Afghan and coalition forces in northern Kunduz and manages the construction and placement of explosive devices throughout the province.
It is unclear if the targeted IMU explosives expert was captured; intelligence officials are likely combing through the captured “insurgents” to determine if he is among them. In the recent past, ISAF has announced within a day or two if a targeted IMU commander has been killed or captured.
Updated on July 30:
ISAF confirmed the targeted IMU explosive expert was detained during the raid.
Background on the IMU and raids in Kunduz and the north
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.]
The IMU has been a prime target of special operations forces in Afghanistan. So far this year, special operations forces have conducted at least 25 raids against the IMU; in Badakhshan, Baghlan, Faryab, Logar, Helmand, Kunduz, Takhar, and Wardak, or eight of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces; according to International Security Assistance Force press releases compiled by The Long War Journal.
This spring, ISAF killed the two previous IMU leaders for Afghanistan, in raids just a few weeks apart in Faryab province. [See LWJ report, Special operations forces kill newly appointed IMU leader for Afghanistan, for more information.]
Special operations forces have conducted seven raids against the IMU in Kunduz province so far this year. In one raid, on July 7, two IMU leaders who served as explosives experts and specialized in making suicide and improvised explosive devices were captured in a raid in Kunduz district, Kunduz province. The captured IMU leaders are Afghans of Uzbek ethnicity and are linked to the group’s top leadership.
Five days ago, special operations forces killed Khadim, an IMU “explosives expert responsible for recruiting and training insurgents for suicide attacks.”
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.