|US launches airstrikes on Taliban training camps|
|[LWJ] The US military launched a series of airstrikes on Taliban training camps located in Afghanistan’s remote northeastern province of Badakhshan, which borders Tajikistan. The camps were used by the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) and other terrorist groups.|
“Over the past 96 hours, US forces conducted air operations to strike Taliban training facilities in Badakhshan province, preventing the planning and rehearsal of terrorist acts near the border with China and Tajikistan by such organizations as the East Turkistan Islamic Movement and others,” Resolute Support announced in a press release.
According to Resolute Support, the airstrikes also “destroyed stolen Afghan National Army vehicles that were in the process of being converted to vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices.”
Badakhshan, once a peaceful province, has become a Taliban hotbed since the US withdrew the bulk of its forces after the troop surge ended in 2012. Of Badakhshan’s 28 districts, LWJ assesses three to be Taliban controlled and another nine to be contested.
ETIM’s emir has served on al Qaeda’s shura, and it has operated a training camp that was sponsored by Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. After the Taliban lost control of Afghanistan in 2001, the ETIM established training camps in Pakistan.
ETIM fighters have fought alongside the Taliban and other jihadist groups against Coalition and Afghan forces since the US first invaded Afghanistan in 2001.
The US has previously targeted ETIM leaders inside Pakistan in its drone campaign. In Aug. 2010, the US thought it killed Abdul Haq al Turkistani, the emir of the ETIM, in a drone strike in North Waziristan, Pakistan. Turkistani later re-emerged in a video in 2015, and said he was severely wounded in the 2010 drone strike. Abdul Haq issued another in 2016 that took al Qaeda’s side in its dispute with the Islamic State.
The US was also thought to have killed Emeti Yakuf (a.k.a. Abdul Shakoor Turkistani), in a drone strike in Pakistan in Aug. 2012. Yakuf took control of the ETIM as Turkistani was recovering from his injuries, and also took control of al Qaeda’s network in Pakistan’s tribal areas in 2010.
|Turkistan Islamic Party leader thought killed in US drone strike|
|The emir of the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) who was appointed by al Qaeda to direct operations in Pakistan's tribal areas is rumored to have been killed in the flurry of drone strikes that took place in North Waziristan this week.|
Emeti Yakuf and three of his "commanders" are thought to have been killed in Friday's drone strike on a training camp in the Shawal Valley, Pakistani intelligence told Dawn. Two leaders of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan were also reportedly killed in the same strike. Yakuf's death has not been confirmed.
US intelligence officials told The Long War Journal that they are investigating reports of Yakuf's death, and that he is one of numerous senior terrorist leaders being hunted in North Waziristan.
Yesterday, US intelligence officials told The Long War Journal that the remotely piloted Predators and Reapers were targeting an "important jihadi leader" in the region, but his name was not disclosed. Badruddin Haqqani, the deputy leader of the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani Network, is also rumored to have been killed in a drone strike this week, but the report is unconfirmed.
An al Qaeda operations chief
Yakuf, who is better known as Abdul Shakoor Turkistani or Abdul Jabbar, was given command of al Qaeda's forces in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas in the spring of 2010 after Saif al Adel, a top al Qaeda military strategist and now its deputy leader, left the region [see LWJ report, Al Qaeda appoints new leader of forces in Pakistan's tribal areas].
Yakuf took control of the Turkistan Islamic Party after his predecessor, Abdul Haq al Turkistani, was killed in the Feb. 14, 2010 strike on a compound in the village of Zor Babar Aidak near Mir Ali in North Waziristan. The Turkistan Islamic Party is known to operate in the Mir Ali region along with the Islamic Jihad Group, an offshoot of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.