According to senior officials, IMU has been actively threatening the government all summer, especially in northern areas. Violence has been increasing at the borders and IMU’s reach has maximized.
The extremist group has recently strengthened its power by joining forces with the Islamic State. On August 6th a video was released proving such union. According to The Wall Street Journal, in the video the IMU leader pledges allegiance to ISIS and its ‘self-proclaimed caliph’, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Amidst the nation’s outrage, Hanif Atmar, National Security Adviser to President Ashraf Ghani commented on such act, “Why are they going that way? Because they want to be closer to Central Asia, which is exactly where they want to be.”
It is well-known that IMU’s militants are fierce and “whenever the fighting gets tough, it is the Uzbeks who are in the lead,” said Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum.
It is not the first time the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan allies with another major terrorist group.
The group was created in the 1990s in Uzbekistan. They unsuccessfully attempted to overthrow Soviet’s President Islam Karimov. This forced IMU to flee to Afghanistan, where they pledged allegiance to the Taliban organization led by Mullah Mohammad Omar.
After the rise of the Islamic State and the death of Mullah Omar, IMU’s militants have regained power with ISIS. “The Uzbek militants are cruel and well trained. What worries us isn’t just the presence of these militants in Faryab, but the challenge they represent for the security of the entire north,” said Fatehullah Qaysari, a lawmaker from the district of Qaysar.
IMU’s allegiance to ISIS leaves Afghanistan more fragile and insecure and poses bigger threats to bordering countries. It is also speculated IMU’s move is part of a plan to enter Moscow with more offensive attacks.
IMU has claimed responsibility to several terrorist attacks including the 2014 offense at the Karachi, Pakistan Airport.