Special operations forces capture 2 IMU leaders in Afghan north

Coailition and Afghan forces captured two leaders of the al Qaeda-linked Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan who were involved in suicide operations during a raid several days ago in the northern Afghan province of Kunduz.

The two IMU leaders were captured during the July 7 raid in Kunduz district in the province of the same name. Although the International Security Assistance Force announced the raid on July 7, it was not known at the time if the targeted IMU leader was captured [see Threat Matrix report, ISAF targets IMU suicide bomb maker in Kunduz].

The captured IMU leaders “were directly involved in the construction of improvised explosive devices and their use in insurgent attacks in and around central Kunduz,” ISAF stated in a press release. “Both leaders are associated with senior IMU leadership and participated in high-profile suicide attack planning, including a failed attack in January.”

Both IMU leaders are “Afghan nationals of Uzbek ethnicity,” Captain Dan Einert, a spokesman for the ISAF Joint Command Press Desk, told The Long War Journal.

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. So far this year, special operations forces have conducted at least 22 raids against the IMU, in Badakhshan, Baghlan, Faryab, Logar, Helmand, Kunduz, Takhar, and Wardak, or eight of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces, according to ISAF 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.]

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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