Uzbek Commander Yoldashev was wanted for killing a US diplomat


LAHORE: Reportedly killed in a US drone attack on August 25, 2009 in the South Waziristan tribal region of Pakistan, Tahir Yoldashev, the chief of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), had been a target of the FBI for quite some time now for masterminding the March 2, 2006 killing of an American diplomat, David Foy, in a car bomb attack outside the US Consulate’s building in Karachi.

Widely known as the military mentor of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Chief Baitullah Mehsud, Tahir Yoldashev reportedly received multiple head injuries in a US drone attack at the Ragh village of Kaniguram town in South Waziristan on August 27, 2009, eventually causing his death. Kaniguram – a picturesque town located 40 kilometers northeast of Wana – is in the control of foreign militants affiliated with the late Baitullah Mehsud. Yoldashev had also been responsible for the meteoric rise of the slain TTP chief, who was killed in a drone attack in South Waziristan on August 5, 2009. Tahir Yoldashev had the distinction of having challenged the governments of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Pakistan, China and the United States in the name of his radical Islam. Yoldashev and his Uzbek fighters have been a part of the Afghan Taliban and the TTP under the tutelage of Mullah Mohammad Omar.

According to the Pakistani authorities, the slain IMU chief was accused of having masterminded the March 2, 2006 suicide bomb attack outside the US Consulate’s building in the port city of Karachi, hardly two days before President George Bush’s visit to Pakistan. A human bomb, believed to be a young Uzbak national, rammed an explosive-laden car into a vehicle carrying an American diplomat David Foy, killing four people, including the diplomat as well as his driver. Almost four months after the attack, the Pakistani authorities had arrested an al-Qaeda militant of the Uzbek origin from South Waziristan’s capital Wana on July 27, 2006. The militant told interrogators that the American Consulate bombing plan was actually chalked out by the South Waziristan-based IMU chief, Tahir Yoldashev, and executed with the help of a local militant group, the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ).

The suicide bomb attack was well-planned, with the driver of a white Toyota car packed with explosives ramming David Foy’s car just meters away from the US Consulate’s main gate in Karachi. The Uzbak militant told his interrogators that Yoldashev had prepared dozens of suicide bombers who had been involved in several suicide bombings across Pakistan, targeting the American interests as well as the Pakistani security forces. According to him, the prime motive behind the killing of the US diplomat was to give a message to then American President George Bush who was coming to Pakistan at that time. Explaining the aims and objectives of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the arrested Uzbak militant reportedly told his interrogators that Tahir Yoldashev and his followers want to establish Islamic states in the Central Asian Republics, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Commonly known as Qari Farooq in the militant circles of South Waziristan, Yoldashev was born in Namangan, Uzbekistan, in 1967 and his real name was Tahir Abduhalilovich Yoldashev. Together with Jumaboi Ahmadinovich Khojaev he had founded the IMU in Kabul in 1998. Considered to be a close ally of both the Taliban and al-Qaeda, Tahir Yoldashev had been opposed to the communist government in Uzbekistan before and after the break-up of the Soviet Union. He later fled to for the safety of Taliban-ruled Afghanistan and fought on the Taliban side in Afghanistan’s civil war. Having fled to the Pakistani tribal areas in 2001 after the US-led forces invaded Afghanistan, Tahir Yoldashev had largely armed and financed the private army of Baitullah, besides placing under his command over 3,000 Uzbek fighters to form the backbone of a militia that soon established a reign of terror in the South Waziristan.

Indeed, he was present as a witness to the 2006 peace agreement between the Pakistan Army and the Taliban in South Waziristan. He became the head of the IMU after the death of Juma Namagani in fighting against the US-led forces in Afghanistan in late 2001. Yoldashev shot to prominence in March 2004, when Pakistan army surrounded his base in South Waziristan, but he escaped while his Uzbak fighters mounted a fierce defense for many days. Tahir Yuldashev became greatly involved inside Pakistan because of the tutelage of the al-Qaeda leader and Osama bin Laden’s second-in-command Dr Ayman Al Zawahiri. As more and more Uzbeks fled the Ferghana Valley in Central Asia and joined him in South Waziristan, the IMU turned away from their homeland and began focusing its attention jointly with the TTP inside Pakistan. It sent its warriors to the trouble-stricken Swat Valley of Pakistan min the NWFP province too when Maulana Fazlullah began his activities there after making contacts with Baitullah Mehsud in South Waziristan.

Yoldashev’s death came in the backdrop of recent media reports that the Uzbek militants have been using the high-security Islamabad airport as a transit point to reach the Taliban stronghold of Waziristan region, considered a safe haven for al-Qaeda leadership, where at least 5,000 Uzbek fighters are believed to be present. Habibullah Khan Khattak, the additional chief secretary of the tribal areas, told a parliamentary standing committee on September 12, 2009 that the strength of the Uzbek fighters in North and South Waziristan tribal agencies was not less than 5,000. The members of the standing committee were further told that the Uzbek militants usually land at Islamabad airport and take a taxi to reach the Mir Ali area of Waziristan where they have a strong presence. The death of Yuldashev at the hands of the Americans has, as in the case of Commander Baitullah Mehsud, provided relief to Pakistan and lent strength to its resolve to finally grasp the nettle of South Waziristan.

Comments are closed.


Discover more from Middle East Transparent

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading