Center for Strategic Communication


Hanzala and Nusratullah, two members of the joint Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and Taliban suicide assault team in Panjshir. Images from SITE Intelligence Group.

The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, an al Qaeda and Taliban-linked group that operates in Afghanistan, claimed it executed the May 29 suicide assault on the governor’s compound in Panjshir in concert with the Taliban. The IMU announced that the attack was part of the Taliban’s 2013 spring offensive.

The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan released the statement announcing its participation in the attack in Panjshir, one of the most secured provinces in Afghanistan and the bastion of the former Northern Alliance. The statement was obtained and translated by the SITE Intelligence Group.

The IMU admitted that the attack was executed under the banner of the Taliban’s Khalid bin Waleed spring offensive, which was announced at the end of April. In that statement, the Taliban said it would conduct suicide assaults on Coalition and Afghan facilities. The IMU has integrated its operations with the Taliban in the Afghan north; the two groups conduct joint attacks, and IMU leaders serve in the Taliban’s shadow government in some areas.

“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.

The IMU said that the six members of the suicide assault team “were equipped with light and heavy weaponry, hand grenades” and “were wearing explosive filled martyrdom costumes” and “suits of policemen.”

Three of the fighters were from Afghanistan, two were from Uzbekistan, and one was from Kyrgyzstan.

“Those six mujahids comprised of three from Mawarounnahr [Transoxiana, the historic name for the area of Central Asia consisting of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, southern Kyrgyzstan and southwest Kazakhstan] and the other three from Afghanistan, all of whom were on the fidai list (the waiting list of martyrdom-seeking mujahids) impatiently waiting for their turn,” the statement said, according to SITE.

The IMU named the fighters as Muhammad Yasin and Kamil from Qashqadary in Uzbekistan; Ammar from Kyrgyzstan; Hanzal from Kunduz, Afghanistan; Khadim from Baghlan, Afghanistan; and Nusratullah from Sar-i-Pul, Afghanistan.

Three of the six names in the IMU’s statement directly match those named by the Taliban as executing the attack. The Taliban identified the attackers as Ahmad, Ammar, Muhammad Afzal, Muhammad Yasin, Syed Kamil, and Zia-ud-Din.

The IMU showed pictures of the six members of the suicide assault team, as well as the damage caused by the attack. The IMU then stated that it will continue to fight in the “Khorasan” as well as in the “Mawarounnahr region” [Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan].

“IMU is continuing its jihadi activities in the Khorasan region which started 12 years ago,” the group concluded. “And we hope from Allah that the opening of Khorasan is very near following future conquests in Mawarounnahr region.”

The Khorasan is a region that encompasses large areas of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Iran. The Khorasan is considered by jihadists to be the place where they will inflict the first defeat against their enemies in the Muslim version of Armageddon. The final battle is to take place in the Levant — Israel, Syria, and Lebanon. Mentions of the Khorasan have begun to increase in al Qaeda’s propaganda. After al Qaeda suffered a major blow in Iraq during the surge in 2007-2008, the group began shifting its rhetoric from promoting Iraq as the central front in its jihad and has placed the focus on the Khorasan.

IMU executed previous suicide assault in Panjshir

Panjshir province is the most secure in Afghanistan; attacks there are a rarity. The jihadist alliance in Afghanistan has conducted just one suicide attack in Panjshir since the war began in 2001. That attack took place in October 2011, when another suicide assault team hit the US-run Provincial Reconstruction Team headquarters in the Rakha district.

That attack was claimed by the al Qaeda and Taliban-linked Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, which released a video documenting the attack, and showed pictures of the fighters and the team’s commander.

The province is the home of Ahmad Shah Massoud, the famed Northern Alliance commander who was assassinated in a suicide attack in Takhar province just two days prior to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. Under Massoud’s leadership the Panjshir Valley held out against both the Soviets and the Taliban.