The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, an al Qaeda and Taliban-linked group that operates in Afghanistan, claimed it conducted yesterday’s suicide attack near Bagram Air Base in Parwan province that targeted a US military convoy.
The attack was executed by a suicide bomber known as Hamidullah, the IMU claimed in a statement that was released on its websites, according to the SITE Intelligence Group. The IMU released a picture of Hamidullah, who is seen seated in front of the group’s black banner, with an assault rifle at his side.
The suicide bomber drove an “explosives-laden bicycle into a convoy of NATO-led troops,” according to Pajhwok Afghan News. Although no US soldiers were killed in yesterday’s attack, the IMU claimed that the suicide attack “killed 15 American soldiers and 2 from the apostates [Afghan military].”
Interestingly, the Hizb-i-Islami Gulbuddin, an Islamist group linked to the Taliban, the IMU, and al Qaeda, also claimed credit for the attack. The two groups are known to coordinate operations as part of what the US military has called the Kabul Attack Network.
The IMU has carried out other suicide attacks in Parwan province. The May 19, 2010 suicide assault on Bagram Airbase was executed by the IMU, al Qaeda, and the Pakistani Taliban. The assault was led by Bekay Harrach, a dual-hatted IMU and al Qaeda leader from Germany. Harrach is thought to have been killed during the attack.
An IMU commander known as Abbas Mansoor admitted in 2011 that the IMU carried out the assault in conjunction with other groups.
“We were not the only organizers of this operation; rather, it was done in coordination and cooperation with other jihadi groups,” Mansoor said. “Twenty best sons of the Ummah were chosen for the team. There were Turks, Tajiks, Arabs, Pashtuns, and Afghans.”
The IMU has touted joint operations against US forces in Afghanistan in the past. On June 1, the terror group said that a suicide assault on a US base in Panjshir province was carried out in concert with the Taliban as part of the Taliban’s 2013 spring offensive.
“This attack is the continuation of series of attacks which bear the name of Khalid bin Waleed’ announced by Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in the spring of 2013,” the IMU said, in a statement translated by SITE.
Reporting on the IMU’s activities in Afghanistan has dropped dramatically since the International Security Assistance Force ended its daily operational updates in June. Raids against the IMU, and the killing or capturing of its leaders, were a mainstay of ISAF operational reporting. Between Jan. 1 and June 8 this year, ISAF conducted 29 raids against the IMU’s network in Afghanistan, according to ISAF data compiled by The Long War Journal.
The IMU has integrated its operations with the Taliban in the Afghan north and maintains its base of support across the border in Pakistan. IMU leaders have served in the Taliban’s shadow government in the north.
The IMU remains entrenched in northern Afghanistan despite years of persistent operations against the terror group. Several senior IMU leaders, including two of the terror group’s top commanders for Afghanistan, have been killed since ISAF stepped up operations against the terror group in the summer of 2010. The IMU also operates in eastern Afghanistan.