Publication: Terrorism Focus Volume: 5 Issue: 5


Tahir Yuldash, leader of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), has called for jihad against the government of Pakistan from his refuge in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). In a video recording believed to have been filmed in North Waziristan, Yuldash is seen condemning the military assault on Islamabad’s Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) last July while reading notes from a laptop computer. Wearing a beard and turban, Yuldash sat in front of a black IMU flag and an AK-47 assault rifle. The IMU leader demanded the immediate implementation of shari’a (Islamic law): “Pakistan came into being in the name of Islam, therefore Islam should be enforced in the country.” Yuldash was accompanied in the video by his deputy, Abdul Khaliq Haqqani (AKI, January 17; Komsomolskaya Pravda v Kyrgyzstane [Bishkek], January 23).

Unlike the taped messages from al-Qaeda’s bin Laden and al-Zawahiri, Yuldash’s recordings are designed for Central Asian rather than international consumption, taking advantage of a sudden proliferation of cheap Chinese-made CD and DVD players in the region (IWPR, January 15). After the death of al-Qaeda’s Abu Laith al-Libi by missile attack in late January, Yuldash must be acutely aware of the dangers posed by missile-equipped U.S. drones now operating in the region. The IMU leader was already erroneously reported dead in a U.S. air strike last October.

Many IMU fighters are closely allied to the Tehrek-e-Taliban-Pakistan led by Baitullah Mehsud, who is blamed by Islamabad and Washington for the December 27 assassination of Benazir Bhutto. The Uzbeks face strong opposition from Maulvi Nazir, a South Waziristan Taliban commander. A delegation of Afghan Taliban leaders is reported to be in South Waziristan to negotiate with Maulvi Nazir’s Ahmadzai tribe for a return of Uzbek militants and their Mehsud allies to their former strongholds in the Wana region after having been driven out by the Ahmadzai. Ahmadzai elders oppose the return of the Uzbeks, but Maulvi Nazir is reportedly willing to consider the return of Mehsud commanders who give him a personal pledge of allegiance (Daily Times [Lahore], January 31).


Taliban leader Mullah Muhammad Umar is reported to have addressed a rash of extra-judicial killings in Taliban-held areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan through a decree denouncing the “slaughtering of alleged spies.” The mullah plainly stated that Taliban commanders and other individuals had no right of execution under any circumstances, this right being reserved to Islamic courts. The mullah also made reference to a 40-page, 75-clause “War Procedures” manual that lately has been distributed to Taliban units (The Nation [Lahore], February 3).