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Bin Laden Ally Reported Killed in Afghanistan

Casualties: Uzbek Islamic militant leader died defending northern city, general says.

November 26, 2001|Associated Press

BANGI, Afghanistan — An Islamic militant leader from Uzbekistan who was a key ally of Osama bin Laden was killed in northern Afghanistan, an anti-Taliban general said Sunday.

Juma Namangani, 32, was wounded during fighting for the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, where the Taliban was routed Nov. 9, and he died days later, Northern Alliance Gen. Daoud Khan said. It was not possible to verify the claim.

Namangani's real name was Jumaboi Khojiev, but he was known for his hometown of Namangan in Uzbekistan, a former Soviet republic.

Namangani came to Afghanistan late last year, about the same time an Uzbek court sentenced him to death for terrorist acts after trying him in absentia. He was believed to have a home in Kabul, the Afghan capital.

By this spring, Namangani had become close to Bin Laden, the chief suspect in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and was appointed head of Bin Laden's "foreign legion," according to Uzbek special services.

Other reports said Namangani was deputy head of Bin Laden's military operations.

Namangani was long the military leader of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, which seeks to install an Islamic fundamentalist regime in the Central Asian country that neighbors Afghanistan on the north. Over the past two years, he rose to become the movement's overall leader.

The Uzbek government alleges that Namangani's group was behind a series of 1999 bombings in the capital, Tashkent, that it claims targeted President Islam Karimov.

The U.S. State Department placed his group on a list of terrorist organizations last year after the kidnapping of four American mountain climbers in Kyrgyzstan, another former Soviet republic.

Namangani was born to the poor family of a village teacher and attended a vocational school. From 1987 to 1989, he served with Soviet paratroopers fighting in Afghanistan.

The Soviet army withdrew in 1989 after a failed 10-year war, and when Namangani returned home, he joined an underground Islamic movement. He helped found the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan in 1997.

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