Home > Commentary, Operational analysis > Something interesting about the IMU

Something interesting about the IMU

I’m currently doing a little bit of writing on this crew for the pesky dissertation. Anyway, I just stumbled upon an interesting little fact, which I thought I would share. The IMU, under Tahir Yuldashev (who I am now presuming is still out there and alive and kicking) has a policy that once you join the IMU, you cannot leave. Yup, that’s right. No leaving. Ever. Unless that is you want to meet your maker earlier than you had otherwise planned.

They do however have a longer vetting and screening process before membership and apparently recruits are made aware of this before joining. I’m not sure of the time-span of this vetting process, and don’t have the time to go find out at the moment.

Anyway, just a quick post because I find this quite fascinating. There aren’t many groups I can think of who have such a strict policy.


  1. 11/09/2009 at 11:05 pm

    The Hotel California of extremism!

  2. conycatcher
    11/10/2009 at 1:01 am

    What’s your source on this?

    • Leah Farrall, Australia
      11/10/2009 at 1:42 am

      Abu Walid al Masri, mostly.

  3. 11/10/2009 at 3:53 am

    Yuldashev is known as an abrasive leader and harsh disciplinarian, but the IMU isn’t for life — as much as they may claim it is — as witnessed by the defection of members from the IMU to form the IJU.

    The ETIP has a similar methodology for recruitment, assessment and counter-intelligence — which is almost expected based on their close ties with the IMU and their history surviving the Chinese intelligence services.


    • Leah Farrall, Australia
      11/10/2009 at 4:25 am

      Interesting. Thanks for this. I have a fairly strong case study suggesting this was indeed the case in some instances. Though I do note it was historical.
      I guess when you’re on the run, it’s probably a lot harder to maintain this type of rigor, than when you have a sanctuary. Also re: the IJU split, if there were enough people and they had the backing of another group it would explain why this was allowed. I suspect this is what happened with the IMU/IJU split. Still digging for primary material on this though.

  4. dd
    11/10/2009 at 5:46 am

    One doesn’t have to exclude the other. The defection of some members into IJU doesn’t necessarely mean there exist no such rule. On the contrary, relations between IMU and IJU have been tense over the last years, with rumours of sporadic fights between the two. I’ve got the impression they do not really *like* each other. 🙂 Anyone remember seeing an eulogy on former emir Jalalov on behalf of IMU ?

    • Leah Farrall, Australia
      11/10/2009 at 7:16 am

      Very true. Good point. Thanks for that!

  5. 11/12/2009 at 10:32 am

    The tension between the groups stems from the leadership: Zhalalov and Yuldashev are rumored to hate one another on a personal level. There’s also competition/ego since the IJU has moved beyond being a regional threat while the IMU appears to be limited to being the Taliban’s dog robber.

    At the lower levels there is a lot of cross-talk and members have gone from IMU to IJU and rejoined the IMU. Former IMU members who are currently with the IJU will visit with friends still with the IMU. Of course, these groups are so fluid based on everything from idealogy to funding to personality conflicts, who can ever be sure?

    With Zhalalov dead I’m curious to see if the new IJU commander (rumored to be a very level-headed and charismatic leader) will foster rapprochement with the IMU.

    • Leah Farrall, Australia
      11/12/2009 at 11:33 am

      Thanks. I suspect the tensions are also from differences in doctrine between the two, though I’m not as up on IJU as I should be!

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