Leader of Uzbek gunmen Takhir Yuldash hiding in the Tribe Zone between Pakistan and Afghanistan
"Uzbek insurgent commander", "leader of Uzbek gunmen", "leader of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan", "Al Qaeda Number 10 Man", "Number One enemy of Karimov's regime" - this is but a short list of the names newspapers call Takhir Yuldashev by.
Resident of the Namangan region, Yuldashev took up arms in the early 1990's when he commanded detachments establishing the Shar'ah rule in the Ferghana Valley, gained fighting experience in the civil war, and eventually ended up in the ranks of the Taliban in Afghanistan with his whole detachment several thousand men strong. Yuldashev has retained but several hundreds of followers now. These days, he is fighting units of the regular Pakistani army far from his native land - in the problematic Tribe Zone on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Blamed for explosions in the capital of Uzbekistan in February 1999 and for armed raids into Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan between 1999 and 2001, Yuldashev was sentenced to death by Tashkent (in absentia). His comrade in the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan Dzhuma Namangani is believed dead, but no corroborative evidence of his demise exists. Yuldashev has always been thought responsible for ideology in the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. All too frequently he is referred to as political leader of the rebel Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan in the Western media.
This March, General Shaukat Sultan of the Defense Ministry of Pakistan told journalists that Yuldashev had been wounded in South Vaziristan. Pakistani secret services were tipped on Yuldashev's presence there by their Russian analogs, Nation newspaper surmised a month later. The newspaper perceived it as a "colossal step in reestablishment of the Russian-Pakistani relations."
The latest reports from Pakistan indirectly confirm close and active interaction of Russian, Uzbek, and Pakistani secret services in the war on Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and Al Qaeda.
Pakistani General Nijaz Hattak (he is in charge of the military operation in South and North Vaziristan) said last Friday that he did not have exact information on the whereabouts of Usama bin Laden or his right hand-man Aiman Al-Zavahri. Hattak said, however, that he had something on the whereabouts of Yuldashev hiding in the mountains. The general assured journalists that foreign mercenaries numbering but several hundred had less and less room for maneuvering. Gunmen are contained in mountainous gorges. The Pakistani army will either take them alive or exterminate them in the near future already, Daily Times reported with references to AP.
President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov must be regularly updated on the Pakistani operation in Waziristan. "We know that one of these centers [terrorist training centers - Ferghana.Ru] is located in South Waziristan in Pakistan where terrorists are practically legal," he said at one of his press conferences.