The National Directorate of Security, Afghanistan’s intelligence service, claimed it killed the leader of Jundallah’s fighters who are based in the country in an airstrike in Kunduz province yesterday.
The NDS reported in a statement on its Facebook page that Qari Ghulam Hazrat, who led “one of the largest terrorist networks in the province,” was killed in an airstrike in Chahar Dara district. Hazrat was also described as “one of the key individuals in the war against the security forces in Kunduz.” Also killed in the strike was his deputy, Ammar, and three other members of the group.
Hazrat, who is also known as Abu Hazefa, “also worked as military official of the Taliban” and served in al Qaeda, the governor of Aliabad district in Kunduz told the Afghan Islamic Press.
Kunduz has been hotly contested since the Taliban and its allies an launched an offensive to seize control of the province at the end of April. The districts of Imam Sahib, Aliabad, and Qala-i-Zal were overrun in the initial assault, while Chardara and Dasht-i-Archi fell in mid-June. The status of the five districts is unclear, but the Taliban is still thought to be in control of Imam Sahib, Aliabad, Chardara, and Dasht-i-Archi. The jihadist group released a lengthy video shortly after the Kunduz offensive began that showed its fighters in control of Afghan security forces’ outposts, captured security personnel, and vehicles and weapons seized during the fighting.
The Taliban has coordinated its northern offensive with jihadist groups such as Jundallah and the Islamic Jihad Union, an offshoot of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. The Islamic Jihad Union’s fighters in Kunduz province followed in al Qaeda’s footsteps and pledged loyalty to Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, the newly appointed leader of the Taliban. Photographs released by the group show scores of well-armed fighters gathering in the open.
Jundallah is a wing of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan that fled North Waziristan during the Pakistani military offensive that began in June 2014, according to Nasra Hassan, a terrorism expert. There are two other Jundallahs that operate in the region: one in Pakistan, and another in Iran.
The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan joined the Islamic State on Aug. 6, but it is unclear if all of the group’s followers followed the lead of their emir, Utham Ghazi. Hazrat appears to have remained loyal to the Taliban and al Qaeda. The Islamic State has battled the Taliban in Nangarhar and Helmand provinces, but the IMU has not clashed with the Taliban in the Afghan north.
In the past, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan has integrated its leaders and fighters with the Taliban command structure in the Afghan north. The US military, which targeted numerous IMU commanders between 2007-2013, said that IMU commanders severed as district shadow governors and military commanders for the Taliban.
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