Islamic Jihad Union fighters attack US base, plant ‘anti-helicopter’ mine


The Islamic Jihad Union (IJU), an al Qaeda-allied jihadist group, has released a video of attacks against a US base in Paktia province, and claimed to have deployed an “anti-helicopter fragmentation mine” in an effort to take out a US Army Apache.

The IJU video “was uploaded on YouTube on July 15, 2013, and promoted on jihadist forums on July 22,” according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which obtained and translated the 48-minute Russian-language video.

The video features IJU fighters “Abu Osama” and “Zubeir,” a Kazakh national. The IJU fighters are shown setting up several rocket attacks on a US base in Paktia, and are fired on by US Apache attack helicopters.

“We are taking positions, and we will hit the American infidels, Allah willing,” Zubeir says at one point in the video while setting up an attack. “Kazakh and Pashtu brothers all in the same place on the path of Allah, praise be to Allah,” another fighter says, stressing the international nature of the IJU rocket team.

The cameraman emphasizes that fighters from multiple countries are involved in attacks on US forces on a regular basis.

“Yesterday, we were on an expedition – Pashtun, Uzbek and Russian – and today – Tatar [likely Kazakhs] and Russian,” the cameraman says. “Yesterday, 150 vehicles arrived, and today we will give them our warm welcome. Arabs say: ‘Everything that is approaching is close.'”

In one scene, the IJU fighters are shown carrying what SITE described as “the prototype for an anti-helicopter fragmentation mine.”

“The mine can hit a target at a distance of 300 meters,” SITE continued. The cameraman describes the anti-helicopter fragmentation mine as an “unpleasant surprise” for the US helicopter crews. The IJU narrator indicates, however, that the mine was not fired.

“Unfortunately, the helicopter didn’t fly over the area where we planted our ‘surprise,'” he says.

No US helicopters are reported to have been shot down in such an attack.

Background on the Islamic Jihad Union

The Islamic Jihad Union (also known as the Islamic Jihad Group) is a splinter faction of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, an al Qaeda-linked terror group that operates along the Afghan-Pakistani border. The IJU is based out of the Mir Ali region and maintains close ties with al Qaeda leader Abu Kasha al Iraqi, and with North Waziristan Taliban commander Hafiz Gul Bahadar, who controls the Datta Khel region. It is a Specially Designated Global Terrorist organization.

Central Asians, Turks, and Germans make up a significant portion of the IJU. The German fighters are often referred to as German Taliban, and they carry out attacks in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. In 2009, the IJU released video of ‘German Taliban villages’ in Waziristan. Its fighters were seen training at camps and conducting military operations.

German members of the Islamic Jihad Union have been killed in combat inside Pakistan. Eric Breininger, a German man who converted to Islam, was killed while assaulting a Pakistani military outpost in North Waziristan on April 28, 2010. Three Uzbek fighters were also killed in the attack. Breininger was wanted for plotting attacks against US military bases and personnel in Germany.

Americans have also joined the Islamic Jihad Union. In recent years, two American jihadists, Abu Ibrahim al Amriki and Sayfullah al Amriki, have been featured in propaganda released by the Islamic Jihad Group (another name for the IJU).

The Islamic Jihad Union has been the target of several US airstrikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas. The US killed Najmuddin Jalolov, the leader of the Islamic Jihad Union, in a Predator airstrike in North Waziristan on Sept. 14, 2009. Turkish members of the IJU were reported killed along with an al Qaeda commander in a US Predator strike in North Waziristan on June 19, 2010. And on Sept. 8, 2010, US drones killed Qureshi, an IJU commander who trained Germans to conduct attacks in their home country.

The International Security Assistance Force has also targeted the IJU numerous times during raids in Afghanistan. Since November 2008, ISAF has reported on 19 raids against the IJU in the provinces of Balkh and Kunduz in the north, and Khost and Paktia in the east, according to press releases compiled by The Long War Journal.

The US government continues to view the IJU as a threat. In January 2012, the US added Mevlut Kar, a dual German and Turkish citizen who is also known as Mevlut Zikara, to the list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists. Kar was a member of the IJU cell that attempted to attack US military personnel and civilians in Germany in 2007. The targets of the attack included Ramstein Air Base and Frankfurt International Airport. Three members of the cell were arrested before the plot was executed.

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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  • mike merlo says:

    I guess adapting ordinance like explosives to be used against helicopters could be particularly effective if deployed in rugged terrain where one could then lure the aircraft into a situation where a narrow valley or gorge exists. Why these ‘guys’ would want to share information on blast radius though seems counter intuitive.

  • Will Fenwick says:

    Looks like its just an artillery shell in a metal encased bucket to me

  • Bungo says:

    Undoubtably a glorified fixed-direction Roman Candle with frag. Even with a direct hit it would never penetrate even a lightly armored helo. Allah shall will it not to work. What a bunch of idiots.

  • mike merlo says:

    @Will Fenwick
    too funny.
    I have an ‘image’ of a Taliban stumbling around & bumping into whatever with his head stuck in bucket.
    apt description.
    Everything these guys do is “glorified.”
    Zawahiri must be laughing to himself multiple times daily knowing he’s managed to convince a bunch of semi-literate rubes to do anything he asks or tells them to do.
    I’ve always thought a cheap low-tech way to defend oneself or ‘territory’ against helicopters would be to deploy weather balloons with explosive ordinance attached. Per change this tactic is ever ‘adopted’ maybe I could be recognized as the individual who ‘pioneered’ the airborne IED.

  • blert says:

    Their anti-helicopter gambit was seen during the Soviet campaign. It’s not new.
    The basic scheme is to induce a wayward pilot into coming low to the ground.
    Back in the day, the muj would act like ‘staked goats’ to lure in Hips and Hinds.
    The Russians very quickly countered the gambit by not swallowing the bait.
    ManPADS were required.
    BTW, ManPADS are exactly what Apaches are designed to thwart. (and 23mm cannon fire, too.) They are flying tanks.


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