Islamic Jihad Union conducts joint raid with the Taliban

 

In a newly released video, the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU), an al Qaeda-linked Uzbek group, showcased a joint raid with the Taliban in northern Afghanistan. The video, which is dated for Oct. 2017, takes place in northern Afghanistan, but no specific location is mentioned.

The short video begins by showing the jihadists preparing for the military raid and driving through a remote Afghan village. A clash with Afghan forces, the majority which occurred at night, is featured. During the aftermath of the assault, a fighter is seen climbing a tower to place the Taliban’s white flag. Fighters are then seen parading and celebrating with captured equipment. This includes several captured US-made Humvees.

 

It is unclear where in northern Afghanistan the battle took place. However, the IJU is known to operate in Kunduz and Badakhshan. In 2015, the IJU, which is loyal to the Afghan Taliban, took part in the latter’s siege of Kunduz city.

The same year, the IJU reported that its forces were active against the Afghan military in Kunduz and Badakhshan as part of the Taliban’s 2015 Azm offensive. The IJU has also shown its fighters in northern Kunduz near the border with Tajikistan in the past.

Like other foreign terrorist groups that operate in Afghanistan, the IJU claims to run training camps in the country. Late last year, the IJU released a training camp video of its so-called special forces, which was also located in northern Afghanistan.

The Afghan Taliban has denied that foreign groups operate in the country or that foreign fighters are in its ranks. However, propaganda released by its own battlefield allies disproves the Taliban’s statements.

The IJU is the second foreign jihadist group to highlight joint operations with the Afghan Taliban in recent weeks. Last month, the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP), an al Qaeda-linked Uighur jihadist outfit, released a similar video. Like the IJU’s video, the TIP reports its joint raid was in northern Afghanistan. The TIP is also known to operate in Kunduz and Badakhshan.

The Islamic Jihad Union is a splinter faction of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), and a substantial number of its members are from Central Asia. However, a significant number of Europeans, including Germans and Turks, are known to have joined the IJU. In 2009, the IJU established the German Taliban Mujahideen and the Victorious Sect to accommodate an influx of European jihadists into Pakistan’s tribal areas. [See FDD’s Long War Journal report, ‘German Taliban Mujahideen’ leader thought killed in US airstrike.]

Prior to the Pakistani Army’s offensive in the tribal agency of North Waziristan in June 2014, the IJU’s leadership and much of its network was based in the jihadist hub of Mir Ali. The US has killed several top IJU leaders, including its emir, Najmuddin Jalolov, in drone strikes in North Waziristan.

The IJU has been waging jihad in the Afghan-Pakistan region for more than a decade. It maintains close ties with both al Qaeda and Taliban leaders. The US government listed the group as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist organization in May 2005. Its members who are in custody “have testified to the close ties between the [IJU] leaders and Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar,” the US State department said in its designation.

 

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of The Long War Journal. Caleb Weiss is an intern at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a contributor to The Long War Journal.

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