According to the UN’s Jan. 2019 assessment, al Qaeda’s relationship with the Taliban is “long-standing” and “strong.” And al Qaeda “continues to see Afghanistan as a safe haven for its leadership.” The UN estimates that the Islamic State has several thousand fighters in Afghanistan as well.
The IJU is the second foreign jihadist group to highlight joint battlefield operations with the Afghan Taliban in recent weeks.
Katibat Imam al Bukhari (also known as the Imam Bukhari Jamaat), an Uzbek jihadist group that operates in Syria and Afghanistan, has been formally designated as a terrorist organization by the US State Department today.
The IJU joins a list of jihadist groups that have publicized its training camps inside Afghanistan, including the Taliban, the Turkistan Islamic Party, and the Imam Bukhari Jamaat.
training camp joins similar training camps in Afghanistan advertised by the Taliban, the Turkistan Islamic Party, Imam Bukhari Jamaat, Harakat-ul-Mujahideen and others.
The Imam Bukhari Jamaat and the Islamic Jihad Union have claimed attacks in eastern and northern Afghanistan. Members of these two groups are also known to have operated in Syria.
A Uighur commander known as Abu Omar al Turkistani was killed in a US drone strike in Syria on Jan. 1. According to a jihadi biography posted online, he had a lengthy career fighting alongside al Qaeda-linked forces. He purportedly participated in the Battle of Tora Bora in late 2001.
Taliban forces have entered the city of Kunduz once again. In late September 2015, the Taliban and its jihadist allies captured the city and briefly held it before being forced to retreat to the surrounding areas.
The Treasury Department confirmed today that the head of al Qaeda’s Iran-based network, known as Yasin al Suri, is operational once again. Treasury also designated an additional “associate” of al Suri’s.