More on the connection between the recent spate of drone strikes in North Waziristan and the plot to bomb public targets in Europe. Just a few months ago, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) seemed to be a fringe al Qaeda group. Conventional wisdom was that IMU was not welcome in most Taliban-held areas of Pakistan, due to their "extreme" global jihad views. The fact that they now appear relatively welcome in North Waziristan could mean a few things:
1) The IMU is closely allied with al Qaeda, and
2) al Qaeda has stepped up its influence with the Taliban (eg, Haqqani Network), and
3) The Taliban has embraced the global jihad view
1 & 2 above, plus
4) The Taliban does not support IMU-like elements, but al Qaeda's growing power has suppressed the Taliban, and
5) al Qaeda's global influence is NOT as weak as the Obama administration claims
Either scenario is NOT good.
From the Longwar Journal (September 30, 2010):
Eight Germans and two Britons were killed in the same airstrike that killed an Islamic Jihad Group commander who trained Europeans to carry out attacks in England, France, and Germany.
The eight Germans and two Britons, who were involved in the recently exposed plot to conduct Mumbai-like attacks in Europe, are said to have been killed in one of the two Sept. 8 airstrikes in the Datta Khel area in North Waziristan, a known safe haven and command and control center for al Qaeda and allied terror groups.
The 10 Europeans are thought to have been killed in the same strike that killed Qureshi, a commander in the Islamic Jihad Group (IJG), a splinter faction of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU). Qureshi is believed to have been helping to train and facilitate the European plot, which is said to involve Mumbai-like terror assaults of armed suicide bombers in major European cities, a US intelligence official told The Long War Journal.
Qureshi was described by AKI as a commander who "used to receive foreigners especially the Germans in North Waziristan and then train them and resend them to their country of origins."
The Islamic Jihad Group is based out of the Mir Ali region and maintains close ties with al Qaeda leader Abu Kasha al Iraqi, and with North Waziristan Taliban commander Hafiz Gul Bahadar, who controls the Datta Khel region. The IJG is known to operate a 'German Taliban village' in Waziristan. The IJG is a Specially Designated Global Terrorist organization. Both the IJG and IMU are al Qaeda affiliates that operate in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Central Asia.
A Pakistani intelligence official said that the 10 Europeans killed in the Sept. 8 strikes were communicating with their support cells in Germany and London, and have been tracked for months.
"They have been making calls to Germany and London," the official told The Associated Press. "They have been talking about and looking for facilitators and logistics they need there to carry out terror strikes."
One of the Britons was identified as Abdul Jabbar, who originated from the district of Jhelum in Pakistan's Punjab province. Multiple Pakistani terror groups, including Jaish-e-Mohammed, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and Laskar-e-Jhangvi, are active in Punjab. These groups receive the support of Pakistan's military and intelligence establishments.
Rashid Rauf, the elusive Jaish-e-Mohammed and al Qaeda operative, may be involved in the plot in Britain, a senior US intelligence official told The Long War Journal. Rauf and senior al Qaeda leader Matiur Rehman, who is said to hold the "rolodex" of jihadists who have passed through terror camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan, were the architects of the 2006 London airline plot. Rauf escaped Pakistani custody under very suspicious circumstances and was thought to have been killed in a Predator strike in 2008, but his death was never confirmed. US intelligence officials have told The Long War Journal that they believe Rauf is alive, and Rauf's family has denied he is dead.
Another link to the Uzbek terror groups' involvement in the European terror plot is the arrest of Ahmed Sidiqui, a German from Hamburg. Sidiqui, a member of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, was captured in the Afghan north in July and has since provided information on the terror plot. Sidiqui also said that the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani Network, which is based in North Waziristan and operates in eastern and northern Afghanistan, was involved in the European terror plot.
Sidiqui had attended the Taiba mosque in Hamburg, which was home to several of the 9/11 plotters under its previous name -- Al Quds. German authorities closed the Taiba mosque on Aug. 12.
Coalition Special Operations Forces dramatically stepped up operations against the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan immediately after Sidiqui's capture in July. Multiple IMU commanders have been killed or captured in the northern Afghan provinces of Kunduz, Baghlan, and Takhar since July. Many of these commanders had integrated their operations with the Taliban in northern Afghanistan, and some held senior positions in the Taliban’s shadow government.