The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan has announced that its emir, Abu Usman Adil, was killed in a US drone strike in Pakistan, and named Usman Ghazi as the new leader of the al Qaeda-linked terror group.
The announcement of Adil’s death was made on Furqon, the IMU’s Uzbek-language website. His deputy, Usman Ghazi, has been designated the new emir of the IMU, according to the SITE Intelligence Group.
Adil was killed in a US drone strike in Pakistan in April, the IMU stated. The US conducted just one strike that month, on April 29 in Miramshah, North Waziristan, the headquarters of the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani Network. Four “militants” were killed in the strike on an abandoned school that is known to be used by foreign fighters. Pakistani officials said that Uzbeks and Tajiks were killed in the strike.
Adil had replaced Tahir Yuldashev, the IMU’s emir and co-founder, who was killed in a US Predator airstrike in September 2009. Before his death, Yuldashev sat on al Qaeda’s top council, the Shura Majlis.
Adil is credited with increasing the IMU’s profile in Pakistan and Afghanistan after the death of Yuldashev, US intelligence officials have told The Long War Journal. Whereas Yuldashev had been content with confining the group’s operations largely to Pakistan’s tribal areas, Adil pushed to expand operations in northern and eastern Afghanistan, as well is in the Central Asian republics. The IMU is the most heavily targeted foreign terrorist group in Afghanistan and is also frequently targeted in US drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas, according to data compiled by 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.]
Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan fighters often serve as bodyguards for top Pakistani Taliban and al Qaeda leaders. The IMU fights alongside the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and has stepped up attacks in Central Asian countries as well. In September 2010, the IMU took credit for the Sept. 19 ambush that killed 25 Tajik troops, and also threatened to carry out further attacks in the Central Asian country.
The IMU has claimed credit for numerous suicide assaults in Afghanistan, including the May 19, 2010 attack on the US military airbase in Bagram, the Oct. 15, 2011 assault on the Provincial Reconstruction Team base in Panjshir, and the Oct. 29, 2011 suicide attack that targeted an armored bus in Kabul.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.