Najmiddin Kamolitdinovic Jalolov, leader of the Islamic Jihad Union and the man behind the Sauerland cell's plot to attack targets in Germany is reportedly dead. According to a number of media reports, the Uzbek Islamist died on Monday this week, killed during a US drone strike in Pakistan's North Waziristan region on the Afghan border.
Reuters cited security officials as saying that the man was one of three or four militants killed on Monday when a pilotless US drone aircraft fired a missile at a truck near the town of Mir Ali, which has been long known as a militant sanctuary. Jalolov was the founder of a militant group called the Islamic Jihad Union, an originally Uzbek group which has based its operations in Pakistan for years. According to the online edition of the Indian Express newspaper, US sources also say they were "almost certain" that Jalolov has been killed. There has not been an official confirmation.
In around 2002, Jalolov along with a number of followers of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) formed their own group. The Islamic Jihad Union is estimated to consist of just 100 active fighters, but has proven links to al-Quaida and the Taliban.
German recruits have also found their way into the IJU. Originally the so-called Sauerland cell, a group of jihadists from Germany, intended to train with the IJU, in order to then fight in Chechnya.
But events took a different turn: Jalolov personally asked cell member Fritz Gelowicz and his fellow militants to perpetrate a series of attacks on German soil. According to statements by the Sauerland cell, who are currently on trial in Düsseldorf, US soldiers were the main targets while they also intended to stage symbolic attacks on German and Uzbek targets.
Gelowicz and his group began to plan such attacks. In September 2007, the group, with the exception of Atilla Selek, were detained in Medebach-Oberschledorn in Germany's Sauerland region, where they had already begun preparing a test batch of explosives. Selek, who had helped organise detonators for the attacks, was later detained in Turkey.
In their confessions, the members of the Sauerland cell, who have been standing trial since April in a Düsseldorf court, said Jalolov was often on the move as a leader, seeking them out again and again. They said they only knew him by the name "Ahmad." During evening discussions by the campfire, "Ahmad" liked to talk about IJU's creation and history. IJU took responsibility for several bombing attacks in Uzbekistan between 2002 and 2004.
In addition to the Sauerland cell, Ahmad also managed to recruit others from Germany. Cüneyt Ciftci from the Bavarian town of Ansbach, for example, blew himself up in a suicide attack in Khost in Afghanistan in 2008. Saadullah K. from the state of Hesse died for the IJU during an exchange of gun fire. Two other recruits for the jihad are now standing trial in an upper regional court in Frankfurt. Meanwhile, investigators believe that Eric Breininger from the state of Saarland and German-Lebanese suspect Houssain al-Malla are hiding out in Afghanistan.
In addition to Jalovov, it appears that a Pakistani militant who had also been involved in violent activities in Kashmir, was also killed during Monday's drone attack. According to the Indian Express, close to 500 militants have been killed during the past 13 months by US drones. Media reports and eyewitnesses claim that civilians were also killed in many of the drone attacks.
The IJU, which posts most of its statements on Turkish-language jihadist Web sites, has not yet made any posts about Jalolov's supposed death.