Captured in Northern Afghanistan
Afghan and Coalition forces captured a "weapons facilitator" from the al Qaeda-linked Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan during an operation in Kwajah district in Afghanistan's Takhar province yesterday.
The International Security Assistance Force reported that the facilitator "is believed to have purchased rifles, machine guns, mortar systems and fertilizer for building IEDs to conduct attacks on Afghan and Coalition forces" in Takhar province. ISAF also told The Long War Journal that the detainee was "an Afghan national of Uzbek descent." ISAF would not disclose where the IMU facilitator was obtaining the weapons and explosive materials.
This is the third reported capture of an IMU "weapons facilitator" this month, and the 36th raid targeting IMU this year, according to an investigation by The Long War Journal. The vast majority of these raids have been conducted in northern Afghanistan, a hotbed for IMU operations.
The last reported raid took place on Nov. 11 in Kunduz province, when ISAF captured a senior IMU "weapons facilitator." That raid followed five days after the capture of another IMU operative, which occurred during the first raid targeting a member of the al Qaeda-linked group in almost a month.
A Long War Journal study of ISAF raids targeting al Qaeda-affiliated groups in Afghanistan over the last two years finds that both the number and the frequency of raids decreased between 2011 and 2012. There were 52 reported raids targeting IMU members or insurgents associated with the group from January 2011 to November 2011, compared with 36 raids so far this year. This decrease in reported raids between 2011 and 2012 stands in contrast to an almost unchanged number of Enemy-Initiated Attacks (EIA) and an increase in civilian casualties during the same time period, based on ISAF data.
The discrepancy between increased civilian casualties and decreased ISAF operations targeting the IMU could reflect a number of factors. These factors could include the withdrawal of Coalition forces, leaving less available forces to conduct raids; or a decrease in IMU activity, minimizing potential targets. However, statements suggest that ISAF is not reporting all of the raids targeting the group.
When asked last week by The Long War Journal about a month-long gap in reported raids between October and November of this year, ISAF responded that "[f]or reasons internal to ISAF there were no operational reports issued during that time period."
"That does not indicate there were no missions executed, just that there was not a release issued," ISAF continued. ISAF would not disclose the reasons for not issuing the press releases on raids against al Qaeda and allied groups.
A large gap in ISAF reports on raids against al Qaeda, IMU, and other terror groups in Afghanistan occurred once before in the past year. Between Dec. 8, 2011 and Jan. 29, 2012, ISAF did not report on any raids against the al Qaeda-linked groups. At that time, ISAF told The Long War Journal that the lack of reporting on raids against al Qaeda and the IMU "should not be misinterpreted as lack of operational rigor against those entities," but would not disclose whether any raids against those groups had occurred during that time period.
"ISAF continues to conduct combat operations against the spectrum of insurgent forces through-out Afghanistan year-round," ISAF stated on Jan. 30. [See LWJ report, Afghan, ISAF troops kill IMU leader in north, for more details.] After the inquiry in January, the reports of raids against the terror groups picked up.
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