Islamic Jihad Union
Key Members: Akhtar Mansoor, Najmiddin Jalolov, Abu Omar al-Turkistani;
Operational Area: Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan;
Involved In: Armed Attacks, Assasinations, Bomb Attacks, Kidnapping;
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The Islamic Jihad Union (also known as IJU) is a militant Islamist organization founded in 2002 as a splinter group of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU).
Headquartered in North Waziristan, the group has been affiliated with both Al-Qaeda and the Taliban terrorist groups.
Under its original name Islamic Jihad Group the group conducted several terror attacks in Uzbekistan.
In 2007, a large-scale bomb plot in Germany, known as the “Sauerland terrorist cell”, was discovered by German security authorities.
In the following years, the group focused on fighting Pakistani forces in the tribal areas, and NATO and Afghan forces in Afghanistan.
Recruits are mainly Turks both from Turkey and the Turkish communities in Western Europe, but also European converts to Islam, particularly in German-speaking countries.
Islamic Jihad Group (IJG):
The IJG was founded in March 2002 as a splinter group from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), after the movement was effectively tied between those who aimed to join the Global Jihad, and those who wanted to keep pressure and focus on Uzbekistan.
Under its initial name Islamic Jihad Group, the new group settled in North Waziristan and took headquarters in Mir Ali.
Islamic Jihad Group set off a series of bombs from 28 March to 1 April 2004 in Uzbekistan, killing 47 people, and had terror cells in Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Russia.
Islamic Jihad Group terrorist group members trained at terror camps in Pakistan and Kazakhstan.
The Islamic Jihad Group bombed the Israeli and U.S. embassies and the Uzbek Prosecutor-General’s Office in Tashkent, Uzbekistan on 30 July 2004, saying they targeted “apostate” governments. Several Islamic Jihad Group terrorists were arrested in Kazakhstan in late 2004.
U.S. Central Intelligence Agency Director Porter Goss testified in March 2005 that Islamic Jihad Group “has become a more virulent threat to U.S. interests and local governments.”
The State Department designated Islamic Jihad Group as a global terrorist organization in May 2005. The United Nations Security Council added Islamic Jihad Group to its terrorism list in June 2005.
In May 2005, the group changed its name into Islamic Jihad Union (IJU). After this period, it became closer to core al-Qaida, shifting its focus towards plotting terror attacks in Pakistan and Western Europe, particularly Germany.
On 13 October 2005, Hazel Blears MP testified before the House of Commons that the Islamic Jihad Union should be identified as a banned organization because it posed a threat to British interests overseas.
Though some Ministers dissented from this viewpoint, Blears asserted in her testimony that these conclusions were independently corroborated by British intelligence service and security service sources, and that many UN members expressed concern regarding the IJG.
Sauerland Terror Cell:
In 2007 three terrorists were arrested in Germany after being suspected of plans to attack the Frankfurt International airport and US-Military installations such as Ramstein Air Base. The three persons were directly affiliated with the Islamic Jihad Group.
In 2008 two suspected Islamic Jihad Union members were arrested at Germany‘s Cologne Bonn Airport aboard a KLM flight bound for Amsterdam.
The men, who had connecting flights to Uganda, were thought to have continuing itineraries on to Pakistan, where sources claimed they would participate in some sort of terrorist training or indoctrination.
However, after being held for several days, evidence failed to materialize and the men (one Somali and one German citizen of Somali heritage) were released.
Shifting operations to Afghanistan:
Following the discovered bombing plot of the Islamic Jihad Union-affiliated “Sauerland terror cell” in Germany, the group shifted its operations again to Afghanistan, where in early 2008 a German-born Turkish Islamic Jihad Union member drove a VBIED into a NATO compound, killing at least four people.
A video released online by the Islamic Jihad Union’s media arm, Badr al-Tawhid, in 2011, showed its members fighting alongside Taliban forces in Afghanistan‘s northern and eastern provinces, and providing training to local Uzbek, Tajik and Pashtuns.
The same video listed Islamic Jihad Union terrorists killed in Afghanistan, whose names indicated they had come from Turkey, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Pakistan.
In a mid-2015 statement, the Islamic Jihad Union website claimed that the group was currently fighting alongside the Taliban, al Qaeda, and the Turkistan Islamic Party in southern Afghanistan, the eastern provinces of Paktika, Paktia, and Nangarhar, and the northern provinces of Badakhshan and Kunduz.
In August 2015, the Islamic Jihad Union released a statement and photos showing scores of its fighters in northern Afghanistan pledging allegiance to the newly appointed Taliban leader Akhtar Mansoor.
Islamic Jihad Union and Imam Bukhari Jamaat are both in Afghanistan in addition to being allied with Al-Qaeda. Taliban (Islamic Emirate) works with the Islamic Jihad Union.
In July 2019, according to a report from the United Nations Security Council, the Islamic Jihad Union has operated in Syria, under the control of the Syrian jihadist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham.