An Uzbek militant group, Khatiba Imam al-Bukhari (KIB), with the release of two pictures has claimed that in a joint operation with the Taliban they captured several members of a public uprising force somewhere in Afghanistan.
Although the group has not said anything about the date and the location of the joint operation, the Long War Journal website has said that the KIB affiliates are operating in Afghanistan’s Jawzjan and Faryab provinces.
“Earlier today, the Uzbek jihadist group, Khatiba Imam al-Bukhari (KIB), released two photos from its Afghanistan branch. The photos detail the capture of several pro-government Afghan militiamen after a claimed joint attack with Taliban soldiers,” the website wrote on Wednesday.
“Since 2016, KIB has sporadically released propaganda from its Afghanistan wing. That year, the group released two videos from the northern part of the country depicting training camps for both general indoctrination and lessons on the manufacturing of IED’s, along with combat footage,” the website said.
In 2018, the United Nations Security Council also confirmed the presence of the group in Afghanistan. But the Taliban has always denied any link with the group.
“Khatiba Imam al-Bukhari (KIB) was established in 2011 in the Afghanistan/Pakistan border area by fighters who had split from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (QDe.010). Since March 2015, the group has been actively collaborating with Jabhat al-Nusrah, listed as Al-Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant and its successor armed groups,” the UNSC said in a statement in 2018.
“KIB leaders view Afghanistan as a new staging ground to project attacks against neighboring Central Asia countries. Since 2016, KIB fighters have been redeployed from the Syrian Arab Republic to the north of Afghanistan with a view to setting up training camps and organizing special terrorist training for new recruits,” according to the UN.
“The ongoing clashes which are going on today in Qaisar, Qaramqol, Garezwan and Shereen Tagab--the same people (KIB) are leading these wars,” said Naqibullah Fayeq, the governor of Faryab province.
But the Taliban’s spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid on Twitter said that the footage was done by propaganda of ‘anti-peace’ elements.
“These images have been stolen from our archive and falsified by anti-peace circles for propaganda!,” tweeted Mujahid.
According to the UN, KIB commands up to 500 foreign terrorist fighters, most of them are nationals of Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and the Russian Federation, including Russian nationals originating from the North Caucasus region. KIB conducted recruitment mainly among nationals of Uzbekistan, including through social networks.
“The foreigners who operate in Badakhshan alongside the Taliban--they are the backbone of the Taliban’s war and they have come here from China, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan,” said Abdullah Naji Nazari, a member of Badakhshan's provincial council.
“There are thirteen active terrorist groups among them Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba ,” said Gul Mohammad Bedar, the deputy governor of Kunar province.
This comes few days after local officials in the eastern province of Kunar also said that foreign militants, among them members of Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba militants, are operating in the province.
Based on the US-Taliban peace agreement which was signed in Doha, the Taliban committed to cut ties with all foreign militant groups including Al Qaeda.