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Afghan War News > Insurgency > Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU)

The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU)

Map of Uzbekistan The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan or IMU is an insurgent group based in Pakistan and Afghanistan that can trace its beginnings back to the late 1990s.The aim of the IMU is to overthrow the current regime of Uzbekistan and create an Islamic state under Sharia.

History.  The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan or IMU was founded in 1998.  Many of its fighters were killed while fighting alongside the Taliban against the U.S. forces and the Northern Alliance in 2001.  After continued attacks and disruption by the Uzbek intelligence service the group moved its operations to the Afghan-Pakistan border. The IMU is closely affiliated with the Pakistani Taliban and al Qaeda.

Operational Area.  Although based in the northwestern areas of Pakistan that border on eastern Afghanistan the IMU will operate in several provinces in northern Afghanistan - mostly in Baghlan and Kunduz provinces. The IMU is also known to operate in Pakistan and in some Central Asian countries (Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan). In addition, in the areas that the Taliban have greater control, the IMU has set up several training camps. In recent years the IMU also operated in Zabul province although fighting between Taliban groups and the IMU has diminished the numbers of IMU in Zabul.

IMU Fighters with ISIS. There are numerous reports that the IMU has sent fighters to take part in the Sunni Revolt against the governments of Iraq and Syria. Many of these fighters are present or former members of the IMU; although some are recruited from the ranks of migrant workers found in Russia.

Leadership.  The leadership of the IMU is based in Pakistan's tribal agency of North Waziristan.  This area is under the control of Pakistan's Taliban.  More than 3,000 Uzbeks and other Central Asian fighters are sheltered in North Waziristan. 1.

Valued Members of Jidhadist Groups. Members of the IMU are valued because of their high rate of literacy. They are able to understand and use social media to get their propaganda message out. In addition, they are known to be experienced IED makers (you need to read to understand some of the explosive manuals and guides).

Integration with the Taliban.  In the north of Afghanistan the IMU has worked with the Taliban and are part of the Taliban's shadow government. There has been a rift between the Taliban and the IMU starting in 2015 when some elements of the IMU declared allegiance to the Islamic State.

Papers, Reports, and Publications about the
Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU)

Feitt, Captain Andrew R.  Countering the IMU in Afghanistan.  The Small Wars Journal, March 11, 2010.  Accessed here on March 18, 2012. Feitt is a military intelligence officer who deployed with the 3rd Special Forces Group to Afghanistan in 2009.

Burgess, Mark.  Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), Center for Defense Information (CDI) Terrorism Project, March 25, 2002.  Accessed here on March 18, 2012.

Madrakhimov, M. Bakhrom.  The Rise of Islamic Fundamentalism in Uzbekistan, Research Paper submitted to USAF Air Command and Staff College Air University, April 2002.  Madrakhimov was an O-3 at the time of the writing.  Accessed here on March 18, 2012.

Naumkin, Vitaly V.  Militant Islam in Central Asia: The Case of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Berkeley Program in Soviet and Post-Soviet Studies, University of California, Berkeley, Spring 2003.  Accessed here March 18, 2012.

Stein, Mr. Matthew. "Uzbekistan's View of Security in Afghanistan After 2014", Military Review, May-June 2012. Accessed here on 11 Aug 2014.

Stein, Mr. Matthew. The Goals of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and Its Impact on Central Asia and the United States, January 2013. Accessed here.

Websites Related to the IMU

Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.  Accessed here at WikipediA.

IMU.  The Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT). Accessed here.

Background Note: Uzbekistan.  U.S. State Department.  Accessed here.

Uzbekistan. CIA World Factbook.  Accessed here.

Graphics about the IMU

"Structure of a Terrorist Network", The New York Times, September 24, 2011.  Accessed here Feb 2012.

News Articles about the IMU

January 7, 2016. "Unrest in Northern Afghanistan Heralds Regional Threats", The Jamestown Foundation.

January 4, 2016. "2015 Restrospective: How the Fall of the IMU Reveals the Limists of IS' Expansion", by Margaret Foster, INSITE Blog on Terrorism & Extremism. Article explores the results of the IMU aligning with the Islamic State and the diminishing of the group's number as a result of fighting with the Taliban.

November 28, 2015. "The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan Becomes Unraveled", Qishloq Ovozi Blog - Radio Free Europe.

August 15, 2015. "Who Controls the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan?", The Diplomat.

August 1, 2015. "IMU Pledges Allegiance to Islamic State", Inside the Cocoon Blog- Central Asia Today. The IMU has reportedly fell in with ISIS in a 16-minute long video.

December 13, 2014. "Afghan Police Say Three IMU-linked Commanders Killed". Gandhara Blog. Radio Free Europe. Three killed in Baghlan province.

June 28, 2014. "The IMU Ascendant: How Uzbek Autocracy Empowers Terrorist Entrepreneurs". By Luke Lischin, Small Wars Journal.

March 31, 2014. "Uzbekistan moves to thwart increased IMU activity at the border". Central Asia Online.

March 19, 2014. "Uzbekistan works to bottle up IMU in Afghanistan". Central Asia Online. Description of activities of Uzbek security forces efforts to keep IMU contained.

September 17, 2013. "Digger Deeper Into the IMU". The Bug Pit,

September 12, 2013. "Uzbek Extremism in Context, Part 1: The Uzbek Jihad and the Problem of Religious Freedom".

September 12, 2013. "Uzbek Extremism in Context: A New Series".

March 18, 2013. "ISAF targets IMU suicide bombing network following deadly attack". The Long War Journal. IMU targeted by ISAF in northern Afghanistan.

February 17, 2013. "After the Afghan Pullout, The Dangers for Central Asia". RFE. Once the U.S. and western powers pull out in 2014 groups like the IMU will move north to continue their insurgency.

January 18, 2013. "Tajik Security Forces Kill IMU Suspect, Arrest Nine". Radio Free Europe.

September 19, 2012. "IMU's leader for Kunduz captured during raid". The Long War Journal.

March 27, 2012.  "Senior IMU Leader Reported Killed in Afghanstan".

March 27, 2012.  "Senior Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan leader killed during operation".  DVIDS.

March 17, 2012.  "ISAF targets IMU leader in Afghan northwest".  Threat Matrix, a blog of The Long War Journal.

March 15, 2012.  "IMU loses strength, funding amid discord".  Central Asia Online.

November 23, 2011.  "IMU cleric urges Pakistanis to continue sheltering jihadis in Waziristan".  The Long War Journal.

March 22, 2011.  "ISAF captures IMU leader who ran terror camps in Afghan north". The Long War Journal.

August 16, 2010.  "Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan confirms leader Tahir Yuldshev killed"The Long War Journal.

March 6, 2010.  "IMU said to seek control over central Asia".  Central Asia Online.

July 2, 2008.  "Pakistan Blames IMU Militants for Afghan Border Unrest".  Radio Free Europe.

June 19, 2008.  "Uzbekistan: U.S. Treasury Freezes Bank Accounts of Terror Suspects".  Radio Free Europe.

September 6, 2007.  "Germany: Authorities Say Uzbekistan-Based Group Behind Terrorist Plot".  Radio Free Europe.

July 2, 2007.  "South/Central Asia: Is Talk of IMU Aimed at Courting Outsiders?"  Radio Free Europe.

March 30, 2007.  "Central Asia: Has IMU Reached The End of the Line?"  Radio Free Europe.

January 14, 2002.  "They're Only Sleeping: Why militant Islamicists in Central Asia aren't going to go away".  The New Yorker.



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1.  On leadership and fighters based in North Waziristan see IMU cleric urges Pakistanis to continue sheltering jihadis in Waziristan, The Long War Journal, November 23, 2011.  Accessed here on March 18, 2012.

2. See "Central Asia's Desirable Militants", Radio Free Europe, November 6, 2014, for more on the IED technical ability of the IMU.

Other Insurgent Groups:

Haqqani Network
Quetta Shura of Taliban
Islamic Jihad Group (IJG), an IMU off-shoot. It is also known as the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU).  See page on IJG by WikipediA.


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