September 27, 2004


Al Qaeda's Uzbek bodyguards: As Pakistan rounds up more Al Qaeda operatives in its cities, hundreds of Uzbek fighters remain in the tribal hills. (Owais Tohid, 9/28/04, CS Monitor)

Hundreds of Uzbek militants now form the bulwark of Al Qaeda's defenses in South Waziristan. The Central Asians are filling the ranks left by Arab fighters who left the region for the Middle East on the orders of Mr. bin Laden months ago, say tribal sources.

"The Arab militants hardly participate in the [South Waziristan] fight as they have handed over control of the battlefield to these Uzbeks. This saves their ranks from losses," says tribesman Mohammad Noor. "They are using the Uzbeks cleverly here. Many locals are now unhappy with the Uzbeks" for drawing attacks from Pakistani forces.

With Al Qaeda's leadership focused on broad planning, command of the day-to-day fighting in the tribal region has been delegated to Qari Tahir Yaldashev. Mr. Yaldashev, who is directly linked to Al Qaeda's leadership, was a founding member of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU). He was the deputy of IMU's founder, Juma Naghanmani, who was killed in Afghanistan by US bombings following Sept. 11, 2001.

After suffering casualties from US forces in the Shah-e Kot mountains of Afghanistan, Yaldashev and some 250 families of Central Asian militants fled to South Waziristan. They joined hordes of Al Qaeda militants of Arab and African origins who escaped the US and its allies at the battle of Tora Bora.

Most of these militants found South Waziristan a haven; local mujahideen and staunch Islamist tribesmen were both ideological counterparts and fellow veterans of the US-sponsored fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan. Thus emerged a new anti-US triangle made up of core Al Qaeda militants, Central Asian fighters from Uzbekistan and Chechnya, and local force of tribesmen.

In the past, "Al Qaeda never let militants from other regions enter the inner circle, which is purely of Arab origin. But Al Qaeda leadership is aware of the qualities of Uzbek militants and their women.... Both are known as staunch jihadis," says Peshawar-based analyst, Mohammad Riaz.

Hard to believe that if Osama were alive and/or al Qaeda had any options they'd rely on non-Arabs. But, hey, all news in the war on terror is bad news, right?

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 27, 2004 10:07 PM

South Waziristan? Sounds like the setting of an Adam Sandler movie.

Posted by: David Cohen at September 27, 2004 10:52 PM

On Brit Hume Tonight they interviewed the Commander of Cent Com Spec Forces, he wouldn't say it out loud, but he did not seem to think that Ossama was using Oxygen these days.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at September 28, 2004 1:24 AM

Robert: Yeah, but I didn't like that wink, wink, nudge, nudge. ('Smirk', Mr. Hume said.)

Anyway: 'Uzbek militants and their women... ' A bit sexist, that?

Posted by: old maltese at September 28, 2004 2:02 AM

"Using Uzbeks cleverly" and "Many locals are now unhappy with the Ubzeks" -- Is it just me or is there just a bit of cognitive dissonance there, what with the security of the jihadis strongly dependent on support from the local populace?

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at September 28, 2004 8:17 AM


All news is bad news....

Posted by: oj at September 28, 2004 8:49 AM

The Uzbeks better sleep very lightly amongst their hosts. They are not family, kin, or tribe and the incentive to provide a sack of heads to Musharref(sp?) in exchange for some peace may become too tempting.

Posted by: Mikey at September 28, 2004 12:28 PM
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