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Uzbek group shows ambush in northern Afghanistan

Katibat Imam al Bukhari (KIB), an Uzbek jihadist group also known as the Imam Bukhari Jamaat, claimed credit for an ambush on Afghan troops in northern Afghanistan in a video released through their Telegram channel. The statement did not specify the Afghan province where the attack occurred, however, it was likely in Faryab where the group has claimed operations in the past. According to the video, the ambush took place on Dec. 29, 2017.

The video depicted an improvised explosive device (IED) attack on an Afghan-flagged Humvee before a large ambush occurred. The use of small arms, as well as mortars, were showcased during the assault. Additionally, some footage was dedicated to showing anti-aircraft fire being directed at Afghan air support flying above the area. The video also utilized footage obtained by a commercial drone used by KIB. The jihadist group claimed to have killed several Afghan troops, but that could not be independently verified.

Footage of the jihadist fighters mobilizing in a small village was shown just prior to the attack. Jihadists spoke to the camera and retrieved weapons from caches in the village before driving to the ambush location. The group also flaunted captured equipment supplied to Afghan forces by the United States.

This is not the first time KIB has advertised its presence in Afghanistan. In 2016, 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. One video only showcased IED attacks, while the other focused on the capture of an Afghan outpost.

KIB has also played a prominent role in northwestern Syria fighting alongside al Qaeda's and other jihadist forces there. Prior to his death last April, RFE/RL confirmed that the Syrian wing was led by a veteran of the jihad in Afghanistan who was sent to Syria by the Taliban and Sirajuddin Haqqani, one of the Taliban's top deputies and leader of the powerful al Qaeda-linked Haqqani Network.

KIB took part in the al Qaeda-led 2015 offensive that took over Idlib Province, as well as the al Qaeda-led offensive in the southern Aleppo countryside and renewed clashes in Latakia in 2016. It has also advertised its training camps in the country, including at least two for children.

Both of of KIB's Syrian and Afghanistan branches swear allegiance to Mullah Akhundzada and the Taliban. More recently, KIB began identifying itself on social media as the "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan - Katibat Imam al Bukhari," a link to the official name used by the Taliban. KIB has also been linked to other Uzbek jihadist groups in Afghanistan, namely the Islamic Jihad Union and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.

[Source: By Caleb Weiss, Threat Matrix, The Long War Journal, Fdds, NJ, 25Jan18]

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