Chieftains neutralized one at a time

Juma Namangani, one of Osama bin Laden’s fellow fighters, has reportedly been killed. General Abdurashid Dustum, one of the Northern Alliance’s leader, told BBC reporters that Mr. Namangani had been killed in a battle near the city of Kunduz in Afghanistan’s north. Mr. Namangani was appointed the Taliban’s northern front commander last summer.

After the Northern Alliance’s rapid advancement towards Talukan and Mazar-i-Sharif, Mr. Namangani, together with his soldiers, retreated to Kunduz and entrenched themselves there.

Juma Namangani was one of the leaders of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, and Uzbek militants, numbering about 8,000 people, used to represent the core of Mr. Namangani’s force. His group also included some 300 Chechen rebels and Pakistani and Arab mercenaries. Jumabai Khojiyev was his true name. He was one of most respected leadera of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. He gained his military experience in the Soviet army as a paratrooper in Afghanistan in 1989. Having returned to Uzbekistan, his homeland, he quickly gained the reputation of a tough guy. In the early 1990s, he became a member of the Tovba (penance) Islamic group. In 1992, this group went underground, while his activists preferred to leave the country and conduct subversive activities against Uzbekistan from the adjacent territories, notably Tajikistan and Afghanistan.

Jomabai Khojiyev has been wanted in Uzbekistan in connection with a number of crimes, including robberies and contract killings. In Tajikistan, he joined the Islamic rebels and became the closest brother-in-arms to Takhir Yuldashev, the leader of Uzbekistan’s Islamic movement.

In February 1993, Jumabai again found himself in Afghanistan, this time, together with the so-called government of Tajikistan in exile, headed by Said Abdullo Nuri and Khoji Akhbar Turajonzoda. These opposition leaders nominated him the “amir” of the Islamic Movement for the renaissance of Uzbekistan and simultaneously a deputy chairman of the Movement for the Islamic Renaissance of Tajikistan. While in Afghanistan, Mr. Khojiyev was trained in the Mojahed camps in Takhar and Kunduz provinces. Later, he visited the Iranian city of Meshkhed and the Pakistani city of Peshavar. Here, the finishing touches were put to Mr. Namangani’s image as a fighter for faith. He then acquired many valuable connections among spiritual leaders of the region. Reportedly, he also made contacts with intelligence officers of some countries.

Having returned to Tajikistan, Juma organized his own camp for training his people. By 1997, he controlled vast areas in the republic. Mr. Namangani was a very influential figure among the United Tajik Opposition members he sided with at the time of the civil war in Tajikistan. Juma was also regarded as a master of guerrilla warfare and diversionary operations. His groups are well equipped, including all types of fire arms, several armoured vehicles, and Grad (hail) missile launchers.

His bases were mostly located in Tajikistan, near the Kyrghyz-Tajik border, while his jeep is said to have had the Almaty (capital of Kazakhstan) licence number.

Juma Namangani and his soldiers have reportedly been involved in drug trafficking via the route of Afghanistan – Tajikistan – Kyrghyzstan – Uzbekistan. Apart from the drug trade, he is said to have actively been involved in the smuggling of arms, gold, and jewellery mined in Afghanistan and Tajikistan. Therefore, he could afford to buy houses in Afghanistan and Pakistan, specifically in Kabul, Kunduz, Talukan, Tavildar, and Peshavar.

According to some of Mr. Namangani’s subordinates, there are some strict limitations in his group. For example, one should not mention his personal name, replacing it with of earlier assigned personal numbers. Any defiance may entail the death penalty. Forbidden were also unauthorized contacts with civilians or other commander’s soldiers. Should one be suspected of treason by Mr. Namangani, the death penalty may apply not only to the suspect himself but also to all his close ones. Mr. Namangani’s commitment to terrorism cannot be only accounted for by his alleged Islamic fanaticism. Even his followers admit that he worked for big money or on orders from foreign intelligent services. Some consider him to be a Saudi Arabian agent.

If Mr. Namangani’s death is ascertained, it will deal a serious blow to the opposition both in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan Founded in 1996. The group includes activists of Islamic movements forbidden by Uzbek president Karimov. The leader of the movement is Yuldashev. The movement has for an object creating an Islamic state on the territory of Ferghana Valley. The headquarter of the movement is situated in the city of Kandahar (Afghanistan). Several thousands of militants make up the total number of the movement. It is financed by rich Uzbek emigrants living in Turkey and Saudi Arabia as well as by the Pakistani intelligence and personally by Osama bin Laden. At the beginning of last year, bin Laden personally received in Kandahar the movement’s representatives. The militants of the movement are armed with almost all kinds of shooting armament as well as by recoilless pieces of ordnance, armoured cars, and Grad missile launchers and anti-aircraft systems. The movement closely cooperates with the Taliban and bin Laden’s sub-units of Al-Qaida. Moreover, it is connected with Chechen terrorists. With Hattab’s help, on Chechen territory a training camp for Uzbek Islamites “Uzbek Front” was created.

Dmitri Litvinovich PRAVDA.Ru

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