BANGI, Afghanistan – An Islamic militant leader from Uzbekistan who was a key ally of Usama bin Laden was killed in northern Afghanistan, an anti-Taliban general said Sunday.
Juma Namangani, 32, was fatally injured during fighting for the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif, where the Taliban were routed on Nov. 9. He died days later as a result of his wounds, alliance Gen. Daoud Khan said. It was not possible to verify his claim.
The rebel leader's real name was Jumaboi Khojiev, but he was known as Namangani for his hometown of Namangan in Uzbekistan.
Namangani was believed to have a home in Kabul, the Afghan capital. There have been reports in Kabul that bin Laden, the chief suspect in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, had named Namangani his deputy head of military operations.
Namangani was one of two leaders of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, which seeks to install an Islamic fundamentalist regime in the Central Asian country just across Afghanistan's northern border.
The secular, authoritarian government of Uzbekistan is a U.S. ally in its war against terrorism, and U.S. troops are currently based in Uzbekistan. The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan opposes any ties to the United States.
The group was placed on the U.S. State Department's list of terrorist organizations last year after the kidnapping of four American mountain climbers in Kyrgystan.
The Uzbek government also alleges Namangani's group was behind a series of 1999 bombings targeting President Islam Karimov in the capital, Tashkent.