Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Jihadists of Central Asia: Escaping Al-Qaeda





Not long ago, Central Asia was suffering geopolitical and cultural isolation and lack of communication with the rest of the world –especially the Muslim world- due to the firm grip of the tsarist Russia and the Soviet communist dictatorship. Today; however, this region imposes itself on the international map especially on the stages of counter-terrorism war, underdevelopment, violations of human rights, and natural resources. Central Asia consists of five political units which are: Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. The total area of this region is ​​four million square km distributed as follows: Tajikistan (an area of ​​0.14 million km 2) and Kazakhstan (with an area of ​​2.7 million km 2). The population of this region is about 60 million that varies between 4.9 million in Turkmenistan, 27 million in Uzbekistan. The average percentage of the total Muslim population in these countries is about 78%, the largest of these ratios is in Tajikistan (90%) and the least is in Kazakhstan (47%). Countries in the region contain a mix of different ethnicities. The higher proportion of the major ethnicity among Central Asian countries (CAR[1]) is found in Turkmenistan (85% of the Turkmen) and the least is found in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, where the percentage of the major ethnicity (the Kyrgyz and the Kazakhs) in each country is about 64%[2].


Because the five Central Asian countries gained independence suddenly and without sufficient preparation in the early 1990s, they have suffered from many racial, national, religious and border clashes. These countries were not ready to face the challenges of post-Soviet era. Most importantly, nations in Central Asia suffered from identity crisis. While Islam has remained in the communist era a cultural norm that was isolated and prevented from playing any political role the years following independence had witnessed the emergence of the political dimension of Islam. That dimension, which embodies the composition of movements and groups, aimed at the establishment of Islamic rule. Yet historical and political changes of the new era put the emerging Islamic awakening in direct confrontation against communist legacy as well as Western penetration that was trying to fill the void left by the Soviet Union. 


Islamists in Central Asia had to deal with political despotism, atheistic beliefs inherited from the Soviet era, lack of financial resources and support, deteriorating economic situation, and the growing missionary activity in the region. They also faced external challenges such as regional and international powers ambitions in Central Asia because of its wealth and strategic location.

The Islamic revival reflects long suppressed identity of the nations in Central Asia. It cannot be ignored or violently confronted. It is better to respond to peoples’ aspirations in this matter and direct it towards appropriate solutions to the issues of Muslims away from hasty or violent policies. Although the roots of Islamist movements can be found in the history of tsarist colonialism of the region, the recent evolution of the phenomenon began with the Soviet occupation.


During the Soviet era, Islam was subjected to distortion through suppression, alienation, and brainwashing. The communist rulers succeeded in abolishing any attempt to revive Islam, which led to the absence of any reference to political Islam in the ideological literature of Central Asian countries during the Soviet era. The concepts of political Islam did not come to light until the mid-eighties. The Soviets’ cruel practices toward Islam included the division of Muslim communities into separate administrative units and obliteration of their Islamic identity through replacing Arabic alphabet with Latin and Cyrillic alphabet, prohibition of any Islamic practices, and imposition of communist doctrine. Added to that the expulsion and exile of thousands of people according to the principle of redistributing the population that aimed at destabilizing Islamic societies by relocating tens of thousands of Muslims to other areas in the USSR. At the same time thousands of Soviets from Slavic origins replaced the expelled Muslims in their land and cities and took over vital administrative functions at the expense of the region's population.


Central Asian countries -such as Kyrgyzstan- have suffered tremendously from these practices, even after independence. Demographic imbalances caused tense political situations after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. However, according to studies conducted after the demise of the Soviet Union, the iron grip of Soviets did not prevent practicing Islam in secret. Since the beginning of the sixties many Islamic societies or groups were unregistered or illegal. In 1963, for example, there was 100-200 mosques officially registered in the region while having thousands of illegal mosques each was led by an imam. At that time, Muslims continued performing Islamic practices such as group prayers, celebrating religious festivals and events, as well as the practices of the rites of marriage, burial, and performing prayers in congregation in the religious festivals[3]. In a study on Political Islam in Central Asia, the analyst -Rafis Abazov- talked about the outcome of such secretive practice of religion. He believed that the secret practice of Islam “apparently facilitated the establishment of the influential group of unofficial Mullahs (Islamic clergy), who played an important role in the community life, but have never been actively and openly involved in the public life and politics”[4]. The unofficial clergy were more radical and active than the official clergy who were submissive to the communist rulers. Many of them affected the youth and directed them towards hardline practices.


The relationship between Muslims and power in Central Asia after independence was problematic. There were three prominent Islamic movements that emerge strongly in the political scene during the 15 years following independence: the Renaissance Party -emerged in Tajikistan-, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) which is an armed group that fought in Afghanistan in 2001 and then split into the Islamic Jihad Front (IJU) and the Islamic Movement of Turkestan, and the third group is the Islamic Liberation Party which was from an Arab origin. In spite of the peaceful approach adopted by most of the Islamist movements, some of them adopted confrontational violent behavior against local authorities.


The CAR are considered the center of extremists in the region, therefore these countries constitute the essence of this analysis. Most of the Uzbek, Kazakh, and Turkmen fighters are among jihadi groups in Central Asia. However, we did not find reliable evidence on the existence of large militants networks in these countries. Nevertheless, jihadists in Central Asia could pose a serious threat to regional stability and international security as they work in an environment of attached and interconnected borders that stretch from the safe haven of extremists in Pakistan across the Fergana Valley. Violent activities are carried out in the region by three hard-liner groups: the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Union of Islamic Jihad, and the Eastern Turkestan Islamic movement. However, these groups’ motives, identities, and strategies are often vague and hard to identify.  Throughout the past ten years, many of these groups embraced the ideology of al-Qaeda’s global jihad, with a focus on Central Asia, in particular the president of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov. Most of Central Asia Jihadists cooperated with al-Qaeda in suicide bombings and attacking U.S. targets, but they distanced themselves from the extreme tactics such as killing innocent victims collectively. At the heart of their goals is their wish to overthrow tyrant regimes in CAR in order to establish the Islamic State ‘caliphate’ in Central Asia along the lines of the Taliban.


Since the beginning of 2009 until present time, members of the IMU and other radical movements are carrying out operations in the region across the northern border of Afghanistan almost on daily basis and in unprecedented numbers. It seems that this region is waiting for something to happen in the near future. Authorities in the CAR and the Russians claimed that there is a plan by the IMU, the IJU, the Taliban, and al-Qaeda to spread and expand and open new fronts in Central Asia to face the U.S. and NATO forces. According to the views of many specialists and experts on radical Islamic movements in this region, this plan would drag the United States and its allies to enter into a battleground in a vast and overlapping geographical area with difficult and tough geographic nature thus; it will have a significant and deep impact on the U.S. interests in the region.


This paper is intended to find out the relation between CAR extremists and al-Qaeda along the lines of their differences, strength or weakness of their alliance, and the future of their relationships especially that al-Qaeda is seeking to expand its clutches to Central Asia. Due to the sensitivity of this issue and to the secrecy surrounding important and strategic data (on both sides; the terrorists and the U.S. intelligence), it was hard to collect reliable data. Nevertheless, based on what was available, the paper is divided into three main parts: the first parts discuss the emergence of Islamic awakening in CAR. It is important to understand the environment in which Islamists thrived and the factors that participated in fueling their anger and thus made them resort to violence. The second part discusses al-Qaeda’s ‘global Jihad’ doctrine, its strategies, the importance of CAR to its ambitions, and its current weakness. The final part discusses Islamists in CAR (especially the IMU and IJU), their establishment and goals, and their ties with al-Qaeda. At the end of each part there is a section called ‘Deductions & Analysis’ that highlights the most important insights and conclusions deduced from available data. At the end of this paper, there are some recommendations proposed based on analyzing the issue on hand.


It is important to mention, at the end, that in order to understand Islamists, their nature, goals, behavior, and ideologies one must understand the region they come from, their heritage, history, current circumstances, conflicts, disappointments, and economic and political situation. But most importantly, one must understand (Islam) –as a religion, as a culture, as a way of life, and as a method used by extremists to hide their evil-. It is important to distinguish Islam, the religion of about one billion human in this world, from the doctrine adopted by extremists and terrorists, which is Qutbism –as in Sayd Qutb doctrine- and Wahhabism.


Political Islam in Central Asia:

The Awakening of Violence or Democracy?



Central Asia is considered –up to a certain point- secular by virtue of falling under Soviet control for about 74 years. Yet since the fall of the Soviet Union, the region witnessed growing trends of radicalism mainly due to the effects of war in Afghanistan and also internal factors like repression and poverty. Islamist movements in Central Asia are mostly of political nature. Their main targets are the presidents of the region’s countries who follow the Soviet path and do not accept opposition. Thousands of people were detained in prisons in Central Asia on claims of having connection with terrorism in a trend that sparked criticism from human rights groups. These groups declared that governments of the region used terrorism to suppress the broader political opposition. Fergana Valley, which extends between Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, is the source of militants who seek to establish an Islamic state in the region.

According to many of the region’s officials, the term extremism in Central Asia includes movements that call for the politicization of Islam in order to revive the heritage of Islamic civilization[5]. In this sense, extremism includes all Islamic movements regardless of their strategies and ideological bases such as the Islamic Renaissance Party ‘al-Nahda’, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Hizb ut-Tahrir, the Islamic Jihad Union, and the Islamic Movement of Turkmenistan. However, not all movements take up arms and adopt violence as means to change the existing regime.

To understand extremism in Central Asia we need to review the stages the Islamic awakening went through in the region:


- The pre-awakening period known as “the secularization of Islam”: this stage stripped Islam of the most important pillars that characterized it over a period of 60 years -since the end of ‘Albasmache’ revolution in 1926 till the launch of Gorbachev opening-up policy in1985-.This included stripping Islam from its specialty, disabling the basic provisions such as prevent the performance of fasting, group prayer, and Hajj, closing religious schools, and the criminalization of teaching the Koran, as well as corrupting the minds of students in schools and universities by disrespecting concepts of religion. In addition, communists used official clergy figures to their regimes own benefit. Clergies’ role ranged from disabling religious provisions to falling into the trap of profiting from religion while sedating people.


- Islamic awakening: since the launch of the Soviets’ openness to all religions policy (1985-1990) hundreds of mosques were re-opened and hundred others were built. Many people were given opportunities to perform the Hajj as well as the spread of hundreds of religious schools with the arrival of donations from Gulf Arab states.


- Fear of awakening: this stage began with Central Asia (Tajikistan - Turkmenistan - Uzbekistan - Kazakh and Kyrgyz) independence from the Soviet domination in early 1990. Islamic awakening varied between one State and the other; it ended violently in Tajikistan in 1992 with the outbreak of civil war, while lasted in the rest of the region to the mid-nineties. Perhaps the most prominent catalyst of fear of Islamic awakening in this period was the formation of the Islamic Renaissance Party ‘al-Nahda’. At first the party called for peaceful coexistence. Al-Nahda used peaceful means to deliver its message such as the organization of demonstrations calling for the construction of more mosques and banning the sale of pork and alcohol. As well as nationalist demands such as renaming streets with Tajik names rather than Russian names. Soon after, the party was classified as a radical movement seeking to takeover power through Islamic slogans.


- Clash between awakening movements and authorities: this stage started with mild clashes between Islamists and authorities such as the campaign waged by the leaders of al-Nahda Party in Uzbekistan in 1991 against the Mufti of the country, accusing him of selling copies of the Quran donated by one of the Gulf countries. Then al-Nahda and other non-Islamist opposition movements’ called to change the authoritarian regime ignited a civil war in the country that lasted from 1992 to 1997. This war was a mix of tribal, ethnic, religious, and political rivalries. Only six months after the outbreak of war 40 thousand people were slaughtered by both authorities and military wing of al-Nahda. Soon after the civil war ended in Tajikistan, Islamists in Uzbekistan announced the formation of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU). Most of IMU leaders participated in the Tajik war. They moved from one country to the other through Afghanistan and Pakistan, and ended up calling for the overthrow of all presidents of Central Asian countries especially the Uzbek President Islam Karimov whom they accused of committing atrocities in prisons towards members of the IMU and other Islamists. The Uzbek government charged the IMU of committing terrorist acts such as the beheading of official personnel and hanging their heads on the gates of their homes, the kidnapping of foreigners in return for millions of dollars for their release, drug trafficking, and attempting to assassinate President Karimov[6].


Jihadists in Central Asia pose a serious threat to regional stability and international security knowing that they are active in interconnected area that extends from the extremists safe haven in Pakistan to Fergana Valley. The ongoing fighting and the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan seems to be transforming what was a relatively small problem to a strong destabilizing factor in CAR. Unfortunately, years of extreme biased assessments blurred the view regarding jihad in Central Asia. According to reports, the international and regional governments manipulated Islamists armed groups for political gains, to the point that some of them went as far as giving extremists green light to carry out terrorist attacks in order to implement their evil agenda. There are also reports that clime al-Qaeda is using Central Asian Islamists to help them in their global jihad. Whether it is a political game of the regional powers or global jihad every point of view carries part of the truth. The history of extremism in Central Asia indicates that radical armed groups are getting more aggressive and their ability to recruit more people is increasing.

Jihadist activities in CAR are mostly undertaken by the main militant organization: the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) or its separate wing, which is called the “Islamic Jihad Union (IJU) ". But the motives of combatants and their identities are often vague. There are militants operating within the framework of these organizations, and members working on their own terms -having a vague idea of ​​Islamic justice and the Jihadists’ cause -, as well as armed drug smugglers, and sometimes a combination of both. The important thing here is that the most dangerous militant networks operating in the region today emerged mainly from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. The members of these organizations embraced ideas consistent with the ideology of al-Qaeda’s global jihad with a focus on Central Asia, in particular the president of Uzbekistan ‘Islam Karimov’. These organizations adopted al-Qaeda’s strategies in the areas of suicide bombing, but it distanced itself from al-Qaeda’s extreme violent tactics such as targeting innocent civilians collectively.
Security campaigns in Central Asia and the fall of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan caused the spread of new networks of the IMU who came to Pakistan early 2000. The more these networks spread the more they get mixed and mingled with global jihadist militancy and the more they develop relations with groups and individuals away from their origins in Fergana Valley.


Knowing this, the question that comes to mind is: why people in CAR felt the need for Islamic awakening? What are the factors that fueled the rise of this phenomenon?

Actually there are internal, regional, as well as international factors behind the emergence of the Islamic awakening, and those are:

1- Historic Factor: communist policies led to hide many religious ideas and practices underground, and perhaps this was one of the reasons for the violent reaction that emerged out of radical movements in the early nineties; Soviet authorities refused to deal with religion as an essential component of the CAR civilization, and did not seek to incorporate it in the cultural structure of the region. Nevertheless, Mikhail Gorbachev tried to mend this mistake in 1985 with his policy to rebuild of the political, social, cultural and economic composites in the Soviet Union. In the post-Soviet era, however, the absence of the democratic structure in CAR and the continuation of communist control through the political elite who held authority led to clashes with radical movements. Islamists considered their struggle with authorities calling "by God" to fight back against tyranny[7].

2- Political factor: that reflects internal turmoil and lack of equilibrium during transition years and the process of building political independence. Still, many of the countries in the region and even Russia itself are suffering from political and intellectual problems since the fall of the Soviet Union. The delayed process of peaceful democratic transition of power led to the occurrence of power struggle in these countries. Some of the Islamist movements became victims of these conflicts that have been inflected on them. This struggle reached its peak in the civil war bloodbath in Tajikistan between 1992 and 1997. The fire spread to neighboring countries and claimed thousands of lives.

In the context of the conflict raging between authorities and radical movements thousands of innocent people were imprisoned in Central Asian states without a fair and public trials accused of either participating or sympathizing with "terrorists". Human rights groups claimed that local governments used the pretext of "terrorism" to carry out repression campaigns against opposition and political dissidents, such as the case in Andijan 2005 in which hundreds of innocent people were shot in cold blood by Uzbek soldiers, according to eyewitnesses[8].

3 - Economic factor: Western social scientists tend to link the increased religious commitment of nations in CAR to the frustration of social and economic crises, as if masses do not find a shelter from their absolute inability to resolve these crises except in religion. The roots of this view can be seen in the works of scholars such as Karl Marx, Weber, and Durkheim.
It is clear that many politicians in the United States are inclined to adopt this interpretation of the Islamic awakening as the cradle of Islamist movements that have received growing acceptance in the Arab street. Edward Djerejian said in testimony before the U.S. Congress on the Middle East in 1993: “Experience suggests to us that political Islamic movements are to an important degree rooted in worsening socio-economic conditions in individual countries”[9].  A year and half later, U.S. President Bill Clinton asserted this view in front of the Jordanian Parliament in 1994 as he noted that extremist movements feed on despair, poverty, and frustration and that socio-economic factors are behind the phenomenon of Islamic awakening[10].
In addition, the difference in the region States’ capacities to take advantage of their natural resources potentials especially oil fueled internal conflicts. These countries are divided into two categories: the first will be able to reduce internal contradictions through using revenues of their natural resources to elevate the economic situation, such as Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. The second are countries that do not have as much natural resources, thus they will suffer more problems and depend on external support, which will affect internal decisions. These countries are Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan[11].

4 – Regional factor: the war in Afghanistan and Chechnya became an important factor in the rise of radical Jihadi Salafi thought, thus aggravating the difficult internal situation.
The religious propaganda that radical movements are trying to spread in Central Asia is mostly based on political motives. The main objective of these movements is to bring down the secular rulers of Central Asia and establish a united Islamic state from East Turkestan to Azerbaijan. Most importantly, after a long absence in the Soviet era, Islamic schools in the region were poor, weak, and open to fierce and financially rich Wahhabism radical thoughts (al-Qaeda) that are spreading in Central Asia. Consequently, moderate Islamists schools were not able to face such radical schools[12].
The U.S. military in the region under the pretext of fighting terrorism is another regional reason for the escalation of Jihadism. The United States managed to convince governments of the region to establish military bases on their territory as part of the long campaign in Afghanistan following the events of September 11. There is a base in Kyrgyzstan, three bases in Tajikistan, and a base in Uzbekistan and there is a security cooperation agreement with Kazakhstan. It is no secret that the United States and the region’s governments are keeping these bases not only to support the U.S. presence in Afghanistan, but to fight what they call the Jihadists of Central Asia.

6 - Security factor
The state of instability and insecurity that dominate the overall situation in Central Asia constitute a source of additional concern to the United States in particular and the West generally. During the past few years, Central Asia was infiltrated by members of the IMU and other radical movements. Insurgents launched many attacks in CAR from the northern border of Afghanistan and it seems that this area is waiting for more attacks to happen in the near future with flow of militants back to the region. Uzbek, Tajik, Kyrgyz, and even Russian and Chinese authorities fear that the IMU, IJU, Taliban, and Al Qaeda have plans to expand and open new fronts to target U.S. and NATO forces in Central Asia.

According to the views of many specialists and experts on radical movements in this region, the plan referred to earlier would drag the United States and its allies to a battleground that covers a vast geographical area that is characterized with difficult and harsh geographical nature. This will have a significant impact on anti-terrorism activities; it will risk the process of allocating resources and energy and delivering supplies to the U.S. army. As a consequence, the U.S. Army and the coalition forces will suffer greatly in such circumstances.


Central Asia’s Importance to Jihadists


Many of the Jihadists fighting alongside Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan are the fighters of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Union of Islamic Jihad, and the Islamic Movement of East Turkestan. They belong to the ethnic mosaic that makes up Central Asia, most of them are from Turk origin, yet none of them are Arabs (most of al-Qaeda’s leadership and members are Arabs) or Bashton (like Taliban) . This fact leads us to ask: what is the vital importance of this region to Central Asian Jihadists (CAJ)?


It is obvious that the Central Asian region is located between China, Russia, Afghanistan, and the Caspian Sea, a vast area of ​​high strategic importance from geographic and demographic aspects. The region’s population is predominantly Muslim. It consists of a series of mountains and arid plains. The most important geographic feature of this region for CAJ[13] is its closeness to Afghanistan and its harsh geographic features that provide safe havens for Jihadists. Moreover, most of the Jihadists depend of Taliban and al-Qaeda for refuge, supplies, and training. Depending on this, they can easily launch attacks in their countries.

Since the nineteenth century, Central Asia has been under the Russian influence who considered this region isolated from the world. It did not acquire international importance until its natural resources became the target of industrial countries and of course due to the global war on terrorism. After the events of September 11, most of the region’s governments became strong supporters of the United States war on terrorism which initiated the invasion of Afghanistan. In this framework, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan allowed NATO forces to use its territory for military bases to support their operations against the Taliban and al-Qaeda. As a result of this cooperation, the region plunged led a wave of attacks carried out by Islamic groups supported and allied with the Taliban. Militants targeted supply lines of NATO forces in Pakistan, which pass through the Khyber Pass, forcing the United States and the NATO forces to look for alternative ways to deliver cargo and supplies to their troops in Afghanistan through the so-called Northern Corridor, which runs through countries of Central Asia. Ensuring stability and security in Central Asia is now considered essential for the West's efforts to win their war in Afghanistan. Stability in this region would prevent radical movements, especially the pattern of Taliban, from spreading in the whole region.

Another reason why the region is important to Jihadists is that the region is located above one of the largest oil, gas, uranium, and gold reserves in the world. Regarding the extraction of these resources, Central Asia is still considered a virgin until now. For example, Kazakhstan is the largest economic power in the region, with an economy equivalent to a hundred billion dollars a year. Whereas gas fields in Turkmenistan and oil production in Kazakhstan are very important to Europe, which is looking for alternative energy sources in the Caspian region to reduce its dependence on Russian gas or gas coming through the Russian territory.
It is well known that this region has a bad record in the areas of violation of human rights and democracy, as well as its reputation as one of the worst areas in the practice of political repression in the world. Uzbekistan, the most populous country in the region, is always criticized by human rights groups for its violations.

Despite all the international reports of successive violations of human rights in Uzbekistan and some countries in the region, the United States is still cooperating with their tyrant regimes, especially in the military field, ignoring criticism by human rights groups that accuses the West of putting security interests above democracy in CAR.


Deductions & Analysis

This diverse and contradictory situation of the Islamic awakening in Central Asia enables us to see the transformation of the Islamic phenomenon in society from the inside out and vice versa in a natural shift that came in response to the surrounding international circumstances, and thus come to certain inferences.

-The first inference is reflected in Islamists attempts to escape the Russian control. In other words, Islamists sought to be free from the Soviet ideology and the Russian confederation. They realized the extent and the gravity of the Russian intentions for their region and the necessity to invoke the stock of Islamic national, historical, and cultural heritage whether it was of Turkish, Iranian, or Arab origins. In fact, they tried and still trying to search for ‘Central Asia’s Islamic identity’. Yet, Islamists suffered from a lack of accurate perceptions and judgments of their own Islamic identity and ended up trying to build an image that is a copy of Turkish, Persian, or Arab Islam and in some cases tries to adopt the image provided by al-Qaeda.
When independent countries emerged in Central Asia in the post-Soviet era, the argument that the Islamic phenomenon is a product of or a simulation of the so-called model of Turkey spread throughout the new societies especially that this argument responded and corresponded with the tasks of modernization and modernity. However, this argument relates only to the areas of Turkish origins, thus it does not withstand in Tajikistan. This fact led some to talk about the impact of the Iranian –or Persian- model, as is evident in the Tajik case. In much the same situation, many started to talk about the effect of ‘Arab image’ through the exacerbation of the role of "Wahhabism" in all regions of Central Asia and the Caucasus. Yet, all what the Islamists did was to replace the Russian influence with Turkish, Persian, or even Arab influence. The countries’ Leadership and most of the public refused to be controlled by other cultures or nations anymore. In the case of Uzbekistan, the public opposed Turkish intervention in the internal affairs of their country. Even the head of state ‘Islam Karimov’ considered the attempt to assassinate him as Turkish plot. The same can be said about the Iranian, or Arab influence.

- Current positions of the region’s political elites reflect conscious or unconscious detachment from core components of their countries’ special heritage and culture. At the same time, we can see the continuity of the power rule traditions that are of a Turkish (mostly Ottoman), Tsarist, and Soviet origins on which they base their standards and strategies to build a modern state. On the other hand, the Islamic alternatives have yet to materialize among other political ideologies. Islamists have not yet become an integral part in the political landscape of CAR mainly because of the lack of social awareness and political support with the spread of fear from being labeled as terrorists and imprisoned or killed, and the lack of acknowledged and legal political parties and movements. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the only political provisions accepted in CAR were official ideologies.

In the course of this process, the Central Asian states produced many political parties and organizations, and also produced a model of the relationship between religion and politics. In the post-Soviet era, what distinguished most Islamic political organizations was that they were all local and small movements that sought to establish national parties in order to engage primarily in national political activity. The only exception among those organizations is the Islamic Revival Party ‘al-Nahda’ of Tajikistan, the Islamic Party of Turkestan (Uzbekistan), and Wallach Party (Kazakhstan). These three parties differ from others by having clear political program, a media of their own, and are organized in a political party form despite the lack of official recognition of them. In addition, these gatherings and parties have been expanding in terms of internal and external dynamics, meaning the recognition of some of the internal population and external parties through having links with the Islamic world in particular.

- Islamists in CAR split into two trends: first, the trend adopted by the party of "Justice", who tried to organize peoples’ lives in his own way and according to his own conditions. This trend ended with the elimination of the Justice party in 1992. The second trend is reflected by the Wahhabi movement mainly the IJU and, to some extent, the IMU. Tahir Yuldashev, the leader of IMU, adopted a violent path to impose his political and religious provisions during the late 1990s and early years of the new millennium.

 It is the only party in Uzbekistan that criticized authority with all its strength to spread its ideas and to achieve its objectives.

-There is no clear record of Islamist movements’ activities in Kazakhstan for several reasons, particularly the decline in the proportion of Muslims in the state to 47% against 46% of the Christians and about 7% of other beliefs such as Buddhism. Throughout its history, Kazakhstan was known for the lack of enthusiasm for Islamist movements’ activity. It is not recorded in any period of its history any uprisings or objections to the central authority under Islamic slogans. Despite Kazakhstan's internal conflicts and delay in the democratic process, the Islamic alternative, that has no position on the political map, is expected to have no part in regime change in this country.


Al-Qaeda in South and Central Asia:

Expanding Clutches


Before we further discuss the Islamist movements in CAR, we need to shed some light on al-Qaeda’s strategy, intentions, and doctrine in the region in order to understand the factors that draw Islamists of CAR towards or away from al-Qaeda as well as speculate their path in the coming days. We will not go about al-Qaeda organization in details. We will only tackle its essential elements that pertain to Islamists of Central Asia.


Historical Overview


The Soviet troop’s invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 threatened the U.S. strategic interests in Central Asia specifically oil, gas, and containing the Iranian new Shiite revolution. To face this situation, the United States turned to its allies: Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt in order to respond and end the Soviet invasion, expel its troops from the region, and establish an Islamic Sunni state hostile to Iran. The most important of all is the creation of a guardian regime in Afghanistan to ensure the passage of oil and gas pipelines from Central Asia in the direction of Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean. On this mutual interests basis (interests of the United States and interests of Arab Gulf States) the role of the Taliban became very clear. Taliban moved from just students to memorize the Qur’an in religious schools to an organized militia armed to the teeth and trained at the hands of experts from the Pakistani army and the U.S. intelligence. At the same time, the United States and its allies set up camps to receive and train "mujahedeen" at the border areas between Pakistan and Afghanistan. These so-called Jihadi efforts were generously supported by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf oil states with money and men. Egypt also undertook the recruitment and transfer of ‘Arab Mujahedeen’[14] to Saudi Arabia and then Afghanistan.

During the first phase of the U.S. Jihadist war against the Soviets, Osama bin-Laden moved to Afghanistan and supervised the establishment of the "house of al-Ansar" in Peshawar, Pakistan in 1984 to receive the Arab volunteers, while Abdullah Azzam[15] established Services Office that provided health care, family care, education, and other services to Jihadists and their families[16].

Since 1986 bin-Laden became devoted to jihad; he opened an advanced military camp in Jaji - a mountain area- to prepare and train Jihadists. The number of volunteers at that time reached more than forty thousand combatants, of whom 20 thousand Saudi, 5 thousands from Yemeni, and 4 thousands from Egypt[17]. Afghanistan became a U.S. base to militarize Islamist groups and connect them with each other. The U.S. administration facilitated relationships between U.S. intelligence and Islamist groups in order to direct all their efforts to resist the Soviet occupation. As a result of these relationships Islamists opened many center for volunteers and donations in the United States[18].

Unfortunately, the United States had no clue that it was unleashing a monster that will turn against it after forcing the Soviet Union to withdraw from Afghanistan. The United States realized that it is difficult to confront this monster using traditional ways especially that Jihadists have acquired high combat training and experience. Therefore, U.S. troops turned against Jihadists in Jalalabad. Due to the great losses among Arab Jihadists, which Osama bin-Laden saw with his own eyes, the United States became Jihadists’ new enemy. Abdullah Azzam demanded revenge, but on November 24, 1989 a bomb planted on the road used by Abdullah Azzam to go to the mosque exploded ending his life and the lives of two of his sons[19]. After the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan and the assassination of Abdullah Azzam, Osama bin-Laden returned to his homeland, where he received a hero's welcome, whereas other  ‘Arabs Afghans’ spread in the entire earth to continue what they have already started in Afghanistan. Next, al-Qaeda moved to the following stage; the global Jihad.


Based on what happened in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation, the United States has provided a breeding ground for the emergence of militarized radical movement without taking into account that this movement could develop its own goals apart from the U.S. goals. This is what actually happened, following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait bin-Laden sought to convince the royal family in Saudi Arabia to use the army of Jihadists instead of foreign troops. When the Saudis rejected his offer, and with increasing pressures on him, bin-Laden settled his financial assets and then went to Sudan, where he summoned a large number of ‘Arab Afghans’ and met again with Ayman al-Zawahiri. Both constructed the military wing "Al Qaeda" which battle ground became the entire world.
In February 1998 the world public opinion was surprised by a statement signed by a number of armed Islamic organizations leaders in the world and declared by Osama bin-Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, Rifai Taha Ahmed -chairman of Shura Council of the Islamic Group in Egypt and Muneer Hamza the secretary of Jamiat Ulema in Pakistan, and Fazlur Rahman, Amir of Jihad Movement in Bangladesh. They announced the establishment of "Global Front for Fighting Jews and Americans –or Crusaders-" and issued a fatwa permitting "killing the Americans and their allies, civilians or military personnel, in any country to facilitate the liberation of Aqsa Mosque and the holy mosque from their grip and until their armies are out of all the land of Islam ...”[20]

Ben-Laden facilitated the return of most Arab Afghan to Afghanistan especially that he was the economic adviser to the Taliban Government, the financer of many of its projects, plus he monopolized Afghan’s opium trade and heroin extraction. At the same time, many Jihadists continued to spread in the direction of the world’s hot spots, such as Chechnya, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Tajikistan, the Philippines and then in the direction of Iraq, Jordan, Palestine, and some countries in the Persian Gulf and Algeria. With the arrival of the new millennium, Arab camps spread in Afghan cities, including Kabul, Kandahar, Khost, Jalalabad and other, and became home to 14 independent movement recognized by law and have strong ties to the Ministries of Interior, Defense and Intelligence of the Taliban government.

In the period between 1992 and 2005, the United States accused bin-Laden of orchestrating and executing more than 30 terrorist operations. After 9/11, Afghanistan became a safe haven for the persecuted in the global war against terrorism led by the United States. Yet, the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001 forced al-Qaeda and Taliban to relocate in new broader areas. Some of the highest ranked leaders in al-Qaeda remained with bin-Laden and Zawahiri in the tribal region along the Pakistan- Afghan border and others went to Iraq and settled in the northern part controlled by an affiliate group called ‘the Kurdish Ansar al-Islam’[21].

Although the global war on terrorism led by the United States achieved notable successes, such as: the destruction of al Qaeda’s safe haven in Afghanistan, the elimination of many of the group’s leaders, and increased determination of many countries to take action against al Qaeda and its allies, but it seems that al-Qaeda expanded (or on its way to expand) towards Central Asia (along with other countries in the Arab world). In addition to the strategic and geographic importance of Central Asia as a peripheral area, rich in resources, and filled with national and ethnic conflicts, the existence of a high number of fighters from Central Asia countries, who are known as the " Uzbek Group"[22], and who are based in South Waziristan allied with the commander of the Pakistani Taliban, plays an essential role in al-Qaeda’s decision to choose this destination, among other areas such as Somalia and Yemen. Many reports indicated that many IMU fighters have already begun to return to their country and to Fergana Valley that was always a reservoir of Islamist movements. Another reason to head towards Central Asia is that the Pakistani army is hitting those "Uzbeks" pretty hard in its military campaign. Therefore, it seems that these campaigns are dragging jihadists out of their strongholds in Pakistan and Afghanistan and leading them to the areas adjacent to Central Asia extending to China, causing the spillover of crisis into the region.


Reconsidering al-Qaeda’s Strategies


The intellectual Influence of Abdullah Azzam[23] – especially the idea of ‘the ​​solid base’ which was first mentioned in an article in the monthly newspaper named "Jihad" in April, 1988[24]- was clearly reflected on the foundations of the global jihad doctrine. On the basis of global Jihad Osama bin-Laden declared the launch of his organization at the end of November and early December 1989 in the city "Peshawar". The ideas and activities of bin-Laden’s organization terrorized the whole world. Bin-Laden’s doctrine essential elements are:

1 – The theory of Global Jihad: stressed the necessity to root al-Qaeda organization on solid grounds in order to ensure the strength of global Jihad because Jihad is the only way to destroy the infidel aggressors, liberate the land of Islam in Afghanistan and other countries, and declare the Islamic State. After the withdrawal of the Soviet Union, the new enemy became the United States and al-Qaeda’s goals widened to include other ‘Islamic lands’ where there are the same conditions that existed in Afghanistan in the 1980s such as (Palestine), and then expand the organization’s activities even more to liberate all Muslim lands, and establish an Islamic caliphate[25]. But, until the organization is able to liberate all Muslim lands it will first work to establish - albeit temporarily – the strong base of Jihad in weakened countries where there are clashes between vulnerable Muslims and their Muslims or non-Muslims rulers such as the case of Egypt and Algeria. Furthermore, and in accordance with the principles of Azzam, Jihad begins against the "near enemy" and not the "far enemy". Abdullah Azzam believed that jihad for the liberation of Afghanistan begins, in fact against the Muslim’s infidel rulers "near enemy" which was the Afghani secular government (before Taliban rule), and not against the Soviets "far enemy"[26]. But bin-Laden and Al Qaeda will adopt at a later stage (in 1998 declaration of global jihad) opposite formula which is jihad against far enemy (the United States) prior to Jihad against near enemy (Muslim rulers).


2 - The so-called Salafi Jihadist doctrine[27]: according to most researchers the "Wahhabi-combat" doctrine constitutes the intellectual foundation for al-Qaeda. It combines the Wahhabis school of thought (those who abide by civil laws are infidels) with the thought of Sayyed Qutb (jihad against near enemies then far enemies) and Salih Sarieh who also tried to combine Wahhabism with the Brotherhood school of thought[28]. The outcome of combining all these schools of radicalism (Wahhabis’ belief and Brotherhood extremism) was al-Qaeda’s global Jihad. This doctrine spread among Afghani Arab more than any other faction of fighters during the war in Afghanistan in the eighties.

3 - The concept of ‘al-Tatarros’ (Shields): according to al-Qaeda and the Wahhabi-combat doctrine if an infidel used a Muslim as a shield, fighters can take down the Muslim to kill the infidel. This concept gave al-Qaeda an intellectual or –fatwa- basis to justify some of its military operations that resulted in the killing of Muslims (men, women, children, or elderly)[29].

4 - The obligation to fight all non-Muslims: this belief is based on Sayyed Qutb extremist’s doctrine (Qutb, ‘In the shadow of the Koran’, c 10, r 564), and the doctrine of Taqi al-Din al-Nabhani founder of Hizb ut-Tahrir. This is directed towards military forces that invade Muslim countries.


5 - The killing of civilians: As already mentioned before, in 1998 Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and other extremists’ leaders signed and issued a declaration under the name of the ‘International Islamic Front for Fighting Jews and Crusaders’ declaring that: (it is the duty of every Muslim in each country -when able- to kill the Americans and their allies, civilians and military..)[30]. This belief constituted source of differences and sometime clashes between al-Qaeda and other Islamic organizations that rejected this belief completely and refused to kill civilians.


Al-Qaeda that was founded during the life of Abdullah Azzam is not the same Qaeda that was re-established by Osama bin-Laden in1998 and had global effects. Nonetheless, al-Qaeda’s violent doctrine that was adopted in the name of Islam by bin-Laden and his followers caused great damage to Arabs and Muslims reputations in the entire world.

Since the declaration of Global Jihad, the results arising from al-Qaeda’s strategy were obviously not in the interest of Islamic nations; on the contrary, it led to many negative results, including:

1-      The collapse of the emerging Islamic state in Afghanistan.

2-      The launch of global manhunt operations against al-Qaeda’s members as well as other Islamic movements in the security context of globalization.

3-      Causing a great damage to the interests and issues of Muslim minorities by deliberate mixing between resistance movements and terrorist organizations.


Al Qaeda's strategy stems from the logic of its ideology, and for all of us –the outsiders- this strategy seems illogical and driven by muffled hatred. Al-Qaeda’s goals are unrealistic and to achieve them, its fighters are ready and willing to kill innocent men, women, and children. Like other terrorist groups, al-Qaeda might be acting in a rational way in the sense that it tries to balance between its capabilities and goals, it studies all options and consider the one it can execute, and it estimates outcomes on the scale of profits and losses. Although the movement insists on adopting flawed ideology, it takes reasonable assumptions based on this ideology.

Central Asia’s Importance to Al-Qaeda


Among the strategic priorities of al-Qaeda is to mobilize all Muslims in global jihad against the West. Central Asia is the closest Muslim region that al-Qaeda can extend its clutches to.

The most prominent views about the importance of Central Asia to al-Qaeda were Ayman al-Zawahiri’s in his book “Knights under the Prophet's Banner” (2001)[31], and Abu Musab al-Suri (Mustafa Abdul Kader Mustafa elset-Maryam) in his book “Muslims in Central Asia and the next battle of Islam “[32] (1999). Central Asian region, in the perception of both extremists, was Jihad’s launching area towards the heart of the Islamic world, the Middle East. For al-Zawahiri, Central Asia represents the battle field, the stage of major operations, and the base of Islam[33]. This view is supported by Abu Musab al-Suri who believed the need for unifying all combat efforts in the current phase as well as Jihad movements in this region (Central Asia) for the high purpose of Global Jihad and then off to the Middle East[34].

Zawahiri believed that al-Qaeda’s presence in the region aimed at the formation of ‘Islamic Mujahedeen belt’ that will constitute a real threat to U.S. interests especially the large quantities of oil reserves and the presence of U.S. forces in Central Asia. He also believed that the experience of Chechnya in the liberation of Caucasus operations will become an inspiration to thousands of Mujahedeen from the Islamic world, and will connect them all from China to the -rich in oil- Caspian Sea. In this sense, all Jihadi fighters will form a belt from Afghanistan to the Republic of Turkmenistan, from southern Russia eastward to Pakistan, and from Kashmir to the south and west with Iran and Turkey who sympathize with Muslims in Central Asia. Many intelligence reports during the period 2007-2011 pointed out that al-Qaeda began to move its cells in Afghanistan, Iraq, North Africa, as well as in Central Asia. These reports pointed to the role of Tahir Yuldashev in the revitalization of jihad cells in Central Asia as well as the IJU’s role in expanding the Jihadi-Belt to Europe[35].

The Collapse of al-Qaeda


Al-Qaeda and its affiliates at the border areas of Afghanistan – Pakistan and in other countries were they hide seem to have suffered from severe blows in the last three years that caused them to become very weak. Among those blows is the lack of liquidity. This deteriorating financial situation may be the result of successful efforts by governments around the world for years to target and shut down the sources of funding for al-Qaeda and its affiliates and it may also reflect that the extremists’ organizations are no longer sponsored even by those who supported them in the past. Indeed, most countries in the world have passed legislations to that effect, including Arab states, led by Saudi Arabia. As a consequence to the lack of funding, al-Qaeda lost one of its important means to attract Islamists to its global Jihad. Al-Qaeda leaders recognized the gravity of their situation and that the organization’s lack of funding without any doubt will affect their operations and their ability to absorb a large number of recruits[36].

Another severe blow to al-Qaeda over the past five months is the death of a number of its prominent leaders headed by the death of its founder, Osama bin-Laden, who was killed in May 2011. The absence of such prominent and experienced figures at this time will affect the performance and the future plans of al-Qaeda led by Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri. Whatever the reason is, it is clear that the failure of al Qaeda in implementing more attacks is linked to a large extent to the chaos among its members who maybe failing in reorganizing their internal ranks. Consequently, this situation- if it continued - will threaten the structural base of the organization and turn it to a marginal group with no significant impact on its members as well as its affiliates and their actions around the world[37].

A third blow to al-Qaeda is the gradual loss of its safe havens in Afghanistan and Pakistan due to the U.S and NATO strikes. It’s worth noting that there are ongoing negotiations between Taliban and Pakistan with the blessings of the United States and an occasional participation of Qatar and Saudi Arabia to convince Taliban to get rid of al-Qaeda in exchange of allowing them to rebuild their state again[38]. It’s true that by losing its camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan al-Qaeda might seek refuge in other regions such as Central Asia; however, Islamists might refuse to provide al-Qaeda with safe havens out of fear of having to face the U.S. and the entire world rage.    


Deductions & Analysis


-   There is no information that links al-Qaeda directly to attacks in Central Asia. What we read in newspapers and articles are all assumptions and accusations but none of them are confirmed.


-   The only engagement from al-Qaeda in Central Asia is indirect through offering safety havens, support, finance, and training to groups coming from that region.


-   Al-Qaeda embraces areas where violence, instability, and poverty are rampant to spread its ideology. In other words, al-Qaeda seems to prosper in failing states. Thus Africa -whether in Somalia, Libya, Algeria, and recently Nigeria- , Yemen, and Iraq are more likely to witness al-Qaeda’s activities.


-   It seems that many researchers believe that al-Qaeda is a self-sufficient organism, independent of its components, and separate from its surroundings. They believe the so-called global Jihad ideology is expanding in all directions (Europe, Central Asia, South Asia, Russia, China, Middle East, Africa, and maybe even in the United States). For example, Guido Steinberg wrote about this in his paper “A Turkish al-Qaeda: The Islamic Jihad Union and the Internationalization of Uzbek Jihadism”:


“The fact that al-Qaeda has recently been able to broaden its recruitment base to include greater numbers of non-Arab Muslims, including Pakistanis, Kurds, and Turks, many of them living in the European diaspora is in itself threatening. The recruitment of an increasing number of Turks would strengthen the trend which has been apparent since 2003 that al-Qaeda is rapidly transforming itself into a truly global organization. Furthermore, if the recruitment of Turks should prove to be part of a larger trend towards their radicalization, Germany—besides Turkey—with its more than two million Turks will be primarily affected. In that case, the terrorist threat in Germany is likely to grow substantially, for German targets and for American installations on German soil”[39].


However, a thorough analysis of al-Qaeda showed us that it is affected by both its internal components and its surroundings.

Concerning its internal components, al Qaeda is suffering from:

·         The death of most of its leaders especially bin-Laden and other leaders such as Abo Masab al-Zarqawi”, Abo Masab al-Suri, and Abo Attaya al-Libi and such.

·         The internal conflicts between its members and Taliban. Taliban are still bitter because they cannot forget that al-Qaeda’s venture on September 11, 2001 cost them their emerging state in Afghanistan knowing that they had nothing to do with al-Qaeda’s global agenda.

·         Lack of financial support

·         Ideological differences with others who adopted global jihad but reject Wahhabism

Concerning external effects:

·         widened war against terrorism that made it lose its safe havens

·         more countries tightening their laws and regulations on financing and harboring terrorists


-The current phase al-Qaeda is living, which can be called the stage of ‘attrition of the United States’, represent a new strategy adopted by al-Qaeda hiding under the cloak of the Taliban movement two branches of Afghanistan and Pakistan. The organization moved from the strategy of attacking U.S. targets directly to the strategy of Attrition especially in the areas where U.S. military bases and personnel are stationed. Its primary objective at this stage is to ensure keeping U.S. troops in conflict zones as long as possible as a draining mechanism of the U.S. military. Therefore, the U.S. decision to withdraw from Iraq was considered by al-Qaeda as a strategic loss not only because the decision deprived it from one of its excuses to continue the fight there, but also because it reduced the internal and external support it had and exposed the organization politically and militarily. In Afghanistan, while the Obama administration's decision to increase U.S. forces in Afghanistan up to about 63 thousand soldiers was considered a boon to the leaders of the organization, its decision to withdraw from Afghanistan within the next couple of years is another blow to al-Qaeda’s strategy and it will probably have the same effect of withdrawing from Iraq on al-Qaeda.


-As the counterterrorism pressure declines with the withdrawal of U.S. troops  from Afghanistan, Al-Qaeda would take advantage of the safe havens in Central Asia —especially in Fergana Valley—to take as sanctuary. Amongst these safe Havens would probably be Tajikistan due to its increasing political and economic deterioration. As we mentioned before, safe havens need to be within failed or failing states, allowing the movement to form a new network of connections with groups, radicalized by their grievances.


-In this sense, we can deduce that the expansion of Al-Qaeda in Central Asia needs certain factors to come together which are: decrease in counterterrorism pressure, existence of safe havens, establishment of new networks with existing Islamists, and rise of a charismatic leaders after the death of bin-Laden and Tahir Yuldashev (IMU leader) to lead this operation.



The Jihadists of Central Asia:

Escaping al-Qaeda’s Clutches


Most of the Jihadists in Central Asia can be traced back to Fergana Valley which has a high population density and is located between Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Fergana Valley is considered the main reservoir of radical Islamic movements which seek to establish an Islamic state in the region, and is mostly populated by religious conservatives. It is one of the areas that have been neglected in Central Asia by successive governments. The valley has been divided between the three countries in the hope that they will sink in border disputes, ethnic clashes, and several other crises after independence. The valley suffers several problems due to the accumulated political, economic, and social crises since Independence. People in the valley have discovered that they got rid of communism, but Islam did not win. They did not enjoy democracy nor the blessings and well-being of the West. This situation created an effective atmosphere for Islamists and secular opposition alike to be active.
One third of the whole valley’s population lives in the Uzbek part of Fergana Valley. The Uzbek part constitutes the heart of the industrial area in the country. Whereas the Tajik and Kyrgyz parts of the valley are suffering serious economic problems and its inhabitants are ordinary people who are victims of tyranny and potential fuel of war if it occurred.

People of the valley do not have a mechanism to enable the opposition to express their positions, put forward their views, and participate in social and political life as in democratic societies, and the only way for these parties to express their needs is to resort to the establishment of religious parties or join existing ones[40].


Several opposition parties that associate themselves with Islam emerged after independence. Such movements based their calls and motives on religious emotions rather than political ideologies. After bloody confrontations with the ruling regimes, the current radical map became as follows:

-       The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) which is classified as a violent radical group that aims to overthrow the existing regime and establish an Islamic state[41],

-       The Islamic Jihad Union (IJU) which splintered from the IMU and was declared a terrorist group in 2005,

-       The ‘Akramieh organization’ which was formed in 1996 by Akram Yuldashev - former member of the Islamic Liberation Party’ in the city of Andijan,

This paper focused on these groups because they represent the most violent movements in the region with clear known ties to al-Qaeda. Thus, Islamists in CAR are not limited to these groups not the ties with al-Qaeda.


It is noted that authorities in CAR used the term Wahhabis to label any Islamic opposition regardless of their true identity and orientation. To these radical movements, the Fergana Valley represented a platform to hide and launch their activities. The valley’s Jihadists became convinced the existing authorities are carriers of the communist legacy; they are not democratic, not even a secular, nor are they Islamic. The worst feature in these regimes is that they chose violence as means of confrontation.



The Most Wanted Radical Movements in CAR: The IMU & IJU


Islamic organizations in Uzbekistan are divided into political organizations such as the Islamic Renaissance party (al-Nahda), or intellectual such as Hizb-et-Tahrir party, or jihadist such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. There are other active organizations in Uzbekistan, such as the Akramieh organization in relation to Akram Yuldashev former member of Hizb-et-Tahrir Party in the city of Andijan. This organization was accused by the government of leading rebellions in Andizhan while people of Uzbekistan described it as being more like a charitable rather than Islamist or jihadist group.
In general, all independent and devoted Muslims (constitute hundreds of thousands of Uzbeks) who do not adhere to any group, make up the majority of prisoners, and most of them in prison on trumped charges of either being a member of Hizb ut-Tahrir, Wahhabism, or terrorism or otherwise. Those Muslims are the followers of the Islamic awakening that was led by Uzbekistan religious elders such as Sheikh Abdul Wali Mirzaev (Imam Andijan and its surroundings), and Sheikh Abdul Ahad Qari (Imam Namangan). Those elders did not establish any political parties or combat groups, but they taught the religion of Allah and the doctrine of the Sunnis and did their duties of raising people's Islamic education[42].

As for the Akramieh organization, it was formed in 1996 by Akram Yuldashev who wrote in a speech titled "Road to the true faith" that "Hizb ut-Tahrir" commensurate with the reality of Arab countries but it is not consistent with the conditions of the Central Asian states.
Akram Yuldashev, who was a math teacher, has been accused of participating in a series of bomb attacks in the Uzbek capital Tashkent in 1999 which killed 18 people. He is serving a prison term of 17 years.

The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan began to take shape with the beginning of the nineties on the basis of several Islamic groups in the Fergana Valley. IMU was accused by the government of wide range of terrorist acts, including the assassination attempt on Karimov in 1999.
In 1990, Tahir Yuldashev declared that he is the prince of the ‘Adalalet’[43] Islamic party in the city of Namangan – which is one of the most important cities in the Fergana Valley, a city where Yuldashev was born and raised -. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Tahir Yuldashev was one of the young Uzbeks who have declared their opposition to the authoritarian regime[44]. Yet, some researchers trace back the beginning of this movement to 1988-1989 when Tahir Yuldashev and Jumabai Hodgiev (Juma Namangani) joined what they (the researchers) believed to be an extremist organization –the "Tablykh"[45]- who -according to them- "aimed at overthrowing the existing political system of Uzbekistan[46]. Until the end of the nineties, most members and fighters of the IMU hid in camps in the mountains of Tajikistan. In 1999, the IMU moved its headquarters to Kandahar in Afghanistan and with the beginning of 2002 the U.S. forces announced that they had killed the leaders of the movement Juma Namangani and Tahir Yuldashev. Everyone involved in counter-terrorism activities saw this as the end of the movement, but the truth was that Juma was killed and not Yuldashev who remained alive until 2010. Even with his death today, the movement did not end.

Tahir Yuldashev intended to make Namangan a city for Muslims, according to his understanding of Islam. He advocated the implementation of Sharia law in all aspects of life as well as advocated the rights of the poor and oppressed, and he rejected oppression and unjust imprisonment. The young people who favored him -called themselves "soldiers of Islam" (Jundallah[47]) - tried to implement laws and regulations they have set themselves, such as setting up independent courts under their supervision. In the fall of 1991, Tahir Yuldashev with his group seized government buildings in Namangan city in hope of establishing an Islamic state in the Fergana Valley[48]. The Uzbek president "Islam Karimov" who was alarmed by these developments, went to Namangan, stood in front of thousands of pro-Yuldashev demonstrators, and gave big promises as well as great Islamic and economic offers to convince people to stand down. But his main concern was to come out of this crowd in one piece.
Afterwards, Tahir Yuldashev became the number one renegade on President "Islam Karimov" list especially that the Uzbek regime had deep concerns of the rapid spread of the IMU and their strong call for the revival of Islam in the country.

When political conflicts in Tajikistan transformed into civil war in 1992 between the people who adhered to their Tajik Islamic-roots t and the communist government that was the puppet of Moscow and backed by all types of Russian weapons, "Islam Karimov" did not stay indifferent to these events in neighboring Tajikistan, but had a special military corps participated in the Tajik war, while his troops in Uzbekistan began a campaign of mass arrests of Muslim youth in the Fergana Valley on charges of "involvement in the Tajik Jihad". After a while, Tahir Yuldashev appeared in neighboring Afghanistan, where he established numerous IMU centers in the capital Kabul and the Pakistani city of Peshawar[49].
Thus many Uzbeks started fleeing persecution and prosecution in Uzbekistan to Afghanistan; most of them were men, in addition to some of the immigrant families of women and children[50]. Soon after, the fate of Tahir Yuldashev was integrally linked to the fate of Taliban in Afghanistan. But the IMU retained its own objectives which were the restoration of Sharia law in Uzbekistan, the establishment of a just system that respects the cultural heritage of the Islam. Mullah Mohammad Omar highly admired the IMU and its leader Yuldashev and provided them with a safe haven. As for the number of IMU fighters, it is difficult to estimate, but they were in hundreds and some say they reached 4000 or more fighters who were equipped with all kinds of weapons[51].

Human rights violations, the kidnapping of scientists and science students in Uzbekistan, and the detention without fair trails and torture in prison starting 1995, were all major causes that led hundreds of Muslim youth to join the armed struggle and training camps of the IMU that had found a safe haven in Afghanistan Mountains under the wings of the Taliban. According to ‘Global Jihad’ website: “Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan – IMU operated mainly from a base in neighbor Tajikistan, allied itself to the Taliban in Afghanistan and in the years 1999-2000 committed series of raids into Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. In 1999 a series of explosions in Uzbekistan’s capital Tashkent were orchestrated in an unsuccessful attempt on Islam Karimov life, which left at least 15 dead and 100 wounded. Islam Karimov placed the blame on radical Wahhabism and the IMU in particular”[52]. In August 2000, the IMU fighters briefly detained four U.S. mountain climbers in Kyrgyzstan, which led the Clinton administration to add the movement to its list of foreign terrorist organizations[53].

After the events of September 11, 2001 and the U.S. war on terrorism in order to root out Taliban and Al Qaeda, Afghanistan gained U.S. attention and Central Asia acquired a strategic dimension, in addition to interests in oil resources and supply lines. Since Central Asia is the immediate vicinity of Afghanistan, we cannot overlook the fact that more than 40 percent of ethnicities in Afghanistan have roots that are linked to the republics of Central Asia (Tajiks, Uzbeks, Turkmen, and Kyrgyz), the relationship between these countries and Afghanistan are very complicated. Thus, we can understand the type of relationship between Taliban and the IMU and the reason why Mullah Omar preferred the IMU and its leader on others (al-Qaeda) even among the Taliban themselves. Many of Taliban members are of Uzbek origins although the majority belongs to Pashtun, and they both belong to the Hanafi Islamic school of jurisprudence. Contrary to al-Qaeda whose members are mostly Arabs and they are either Wahhabis or Ikwan (the Brotherhood) or mixture of both radical schools[54]. 

The IMU had also a military base in the city, "Mazar-e Sharif." They fought the U.S. and allies forces side by side with Taliban until the last minute. Many of the Uzbek fighters were killed in the city "Kunduz" adjacent to the borders of Tajikistan. But Tahir Yuldashev disappeared again. Most analysts believed that after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan and the withdrawal of the Taliban the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan was weakened and dispersed in different regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan. But recent years have revealed that the movement was able to organize itself again, and found refuge in Waziristan region of Pakistan on the Afghan border and from there Tahir Yuldashev continued media war in films produced by his group and distributed in the city of Peshawar in which he conveyed the news of Jihad in the world, as well as threats to his government leader, "Karimov"[55]. This prompted the two governments of Pakistan and Uzbekistan to coordinate among them to continue to hunt members of the movement everywhere their hands reach.

Then violent clashes broke out between fighters of Tahir Yuldashev IMU and the tribes in Waziristan near the town of Wana. These clashes were initiated by the tribal leader called "Malik Saydollah" by order of the Pakistani government against the Mujahedeen of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and their families in order to expel them from the region. He prohibited all tribes who follow him from providing any aid or shelter for the migrants, while his fighters attacked the IMU Office in the village of "Atham Werdak," but they failed in their mission and two of Saydollah’s sons were killed as the leader himself was captured by the IMU Mujahedeen[56].

As for the Taliban intervention to reconcile the two clashing parties, they asked the IMU members to leave the area, stop fighting with tribesmen, and move to Helmand province in southern Afghanistan that is controlled by Taliban where they will be in Mullah Mohammad Omar’s hospitality. The IMU refused the request of the Taliban insisting on staying where they were claiming that many of the local tribes are on their side. However, they had to move eventually.

During operations in the Waziristan region in 2005, the Pakistani regime claimed that Tahir Yuldashev was injured, as previously announced by U.S. forces at the beginning of the 2002  when they announced he was killed along with Juma Namangani. But this claim proved not to be true as Tahir Yuldashev had left the area some time before the attacks and that the news published in some media about his death far from the truth. Yet, IMU finally announced the death of its leader in 2010 due to fatale wounds caused by U.S. attack.

Recently, there has been number of terrorist attacks in Europe and Central Asia that are linked to the IMU. As well as many clashes in Afghanistan’s Northern provinces, indicating that the IMU has expanded its area of operations beyond southern Afghanistan and northwestern Pakistan. This confirms again that the movement is still active and has a presence, although the movement is weak due to the loss of its leadership and great number of its members (from more than 4000 to less than 400)[57]. U.S. officials fear the IMU is going to use Northern Afghanistan to launch attacks against the Central Asian countries in years to come especially after the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.


There may not be clear information about the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU) but the information issued by the intelligence community says that the origins of the IJU can be traced back to the IMU in 2002. The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) suffered direct hits during their fight against the United States and coalition forces 2001-2002. Many of its leaders were killed –especially its military leader Juma Namangani- as well as hundreds of its members. This loss left the IMU in terrible shape away from home. Consequently, the movement could not avoid fragmentation.  But, there are different stories or feed backs on how the IMU was divided. According to Hans-Ing Lango in his article “The rise of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan”, the IMU was divided into two parts, one under Yuldashev leadership who decided to join al-Qaeda’s so-called global Jihad and delay his efforts to liberate Uzbekistan from Karimov’s rule. The other part –which became the IJU- consisted of those who did not approve Yuldashev’s new goals and accused him of abandoning his Uzbek cause especially that he allowed fighters from other ethnicities in the region to join the IMU and thus the movement became international rather than national[58].

Other researchers from Central Asia believed that disagreements on the IMU goals, strategies, and activities and not the ethnicity of its members led to splitting the movement into three factions: the first led by Yuldashev, the second is estimated to be the Islamic Jihad Group (IJG), “an organization which claimed responsibility for the first suicide bomb attacks in Central Asia ever. In late March and early April 2004, some of its members carried out suicide attacks and firing raids mainly targeting Uzbek police in Bukhara and Tashkent”[59]. The third is the IJU led by Nadzhmiddin Yahya Jalolov which has strong ties with al-Qaeda and most members are estimated to be an ethnic Tatar ‘who represents militant jihad and pan-Turkism’[60]. Members of the IJU splinter are mostly Turks or Germans from Turkish origins. This splinter declared its responsibility of several attacks on U.S troops in Afghanistan in March 2008. IJU distributed videos on the internet calling for young Turks to join its cause. Thus, it seems that the main target of this group is young Turks and Germans (either those converted to Islam or those from Turkish origins), and their main goal is supporting Taliban and al-Qaeda’s war against the United States and its allies by launching attacks mostly in Europe[61]. Yet, it is believed that the IJG and IJU are one and the same group. The group only changed its name after 2005[62].

The first view on how the IMU was divided showed that Tahir Yuldashev’s goals concentrated on the so-called Global Jihad while abandoning the Uzbek cause, while the second view claimed that the IJG wanted him to concentrate all his efforts on Uzbekistan to achieve the dream of Islamic state in their homeland. Whereas, the IJU dreams were to establish the great Turkmenistan State (made up of all Central Asian countries) and for some reason they believe helping al-Qaeda will make them reach that goal.  Contrary to those two views, a third set of information claimed that IJU is the only splinter from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan -IMU, in 2002. While the IMU leader, according to Guido Steinberg: “repeatedly emphasized that the IMU's primary aim was to overthrow the regimes in the Central Asian states of Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan and that it had not renounced its original goals in Central Asia. The foundation of the IJU was a consequence of the IMU's refusal to cater to the needs of the young internationalists in its ranks”[63]. Islamic Jihad Union – IJU then, advocated globalization of the Jihad and cooperation with all Jihadi movements in the world”[64].  It is worth mentioning here that the IMU did not abandon its calls for an Islamic state in Uzbekistan completely. It had adopted a series of suicide bombings and attacks in Uzbekistan in 2004, including operations targeting the United States embassies, and Israel. Tens of innocent people were injured and killed in these attacks[65]. Yet, some news sources mentioned that the IJU was the one behind these attacks and not the IMU[66]. On the other hand, the IJU claimed responsibility for some attacks in Europe especially in Germany;sources say that the Islamic Jihad Union has recently expanded its activities to include the European continent”[67]. Whether it is the IMU or the IJU, their actions had local and global effects; it had revived the struggle against the tyrant regimes in Central Asia and returned the United States’ attention to the region.

In the midst of this confusion about the goals of the IMU and IJU, an Islamist blog might have clarifies the issue for us. According to an Islamist who was answering a question of a fellow Islamist about the IMU and IJU on one of the Uzbek Islamists blogs[68], the IMU split into two parts a few years ago. One part became the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU) led by Abu Yahya Muhammad Faith. The other part is the IMU led by Mohammad Tahir Fareq. The IJU is a Jihadi- Salafi Movement of Uzbekistan Sunnis and the IMU is a Hanafi –Matturdieh of Uzbekistan Sunnis[69]. It is important to note that what is meant by Jihadi-Salafi here is Wahhabism which is al-Qaeda’s doctrine that rejects Hanafi school (which is the true Salafi) and accuses the Matturdieh of blasphemy whereas Hanafi –Matturdieh (Matturdieh are part of Asharieh which are true Salafi as well) rejects Wahhabism and its founders Ibin-Taymieh and Mohammad AbdulWahhab[70]. Therefore, according to Islamists’ blog, the IMU is divided into a Wahhabi group (IJU) that adopt al-Qaeda’s global combat against the U.S and Western targets, and a Hanafi group (the remaining part of the original IMU) whose goal is to restore Islam in their homeland not only as a culture but also as a way of life and rule.


The IMU, IJU, and Al-Qaeda: Arch-friends


               As we mentioned before, when Mullah Omar put the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and its leader Tahir Yuldashev in high ranks than most Arab Afghan he raised the latter’s contempt towards the Uzbeks mujahedeen. Mullah Omar believed that the Uzbeks had more strength, durability, and stability in fighting than Arabs. In addition, the IMU and Taliban share the same ethnic origins and Islamic school namely the Hanafi School. On the other hand Mullah Omar was fed up of the on-going problems and conflicts between members of al-Qaeda. So it was not surprising that the IMU did not receive the consent of (al Qaeda) especially that Mullah Omar put all Afghan fighting factions and groups located on the territory of Afghanistan, including Osama bin Laden and Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, under the command of Juma Namangani. Another source of contempt between the IMU and al-Qaeda was that Uzbeks sturdily rejected any other juristic schools. They refused to adopt Wahhabism which tried to penetrate the movement directly from Saudi territory or through Arab organizations in Afghanistan. Al-Qaeda not only feared losing global Jihad leadership but they also feared losing their grip on an important region in the world. Another source of conflict was the Arab intolerance of the emergence of non-Arab reference to acquire a prominent position and maybe the lead of Islamic Jihad. Bin Laden didn’t like to compete with a well-controlled young leadership for Taliban’s sponsorship and protection. The Uzbeks as well were stubborn and refused Arabs leadership. Therefore, they only pledged allegiance to Mullah Mohammad Omar and declared him their prince, not to Osama bin-Laden[71].
            Concerning the IJU relation with al-Qaeda, the head of the German Federal Criminal Police asserted that Jihad Union has close relations with Al-Qaida. The German Interior Minister as well noted that the follow-up intelligence indicates a great affinity between this group and al Qaeda over the past few years. German authorities have claimed that the suspects of planning of terrorist operations in Germany in 2007 were two Germans who converted to Islam recently, and a Turkish. All have received training in Pakistan before returning to Germany to begin executing their plan.  At that time, the IJU main concern was to influence the debate that was going on in Germany about extending the mandate of the German military force operating in Afghanistan. It seems that those who planned to carry out attacks in Germany ahead of a vote of the German Parliament (Bundestag) on ​​the extension of this mandate in October and November 2007 thought that such attacks can prevent the extension of this mandate, which could force Germany to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan knowing that Taliban and al-Qaeda has considered Germany for so long to be the weakest member of the major contributing troops in Afghanistan[72].

According to Guido Steinberg; the IJU suffers from a major problem in surpassing the heritage of the IMU because the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan is stronger than the IJU to this day especially that its members are more connected to their homeland cause and more committed to their religious background. While the IMU are taking a stronghold in Waziristan, the IJU tries to stay away from them in Afghanistan through their firm alliance with al Qaeda.
Al-Qaeda might consider the Islamic Jihad Union more attractive than the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan because it supports their fight against international forces in Afghanistan as well as global jihad without reservation. On the other hand the IMU rarely participated in combats to support al-Qaeda’s cause. They only fought alongside Taliban to defend their Islamic state in hope that the Taliban will do the same when they establish their state[73].  

According to Guido Steinberg, Abu Laith al-Libi was the link between al Qaeda and the Islamic Jihad Union until 2008; Abu Laith al-Libi is one of the most important field commanders in Osama bin Laden’s organization. However, he was killed at the end of January 2008 in an air raid in which U.S fighter aircraft launched a missile at a house in the town of Mir Ali. In that raid many members of the IJU were killed in addition to Abu Laith al-Libi.
Al-Libi was seen as the strategic mind of the Union of Islamic Jihad, as well as responsible for the attacks that were planned in Germany. Abu Laith al-Libi also enjoyed private and close contacts with the Taliban.  Steinberg described him more like a "Commissioner for the leadership of al Qaeda in Central Asia"[74].
It is noted that the IJU is using the internet to send messages to his followers and to recruit others through a Turkish website <>. Thus, using this website makes us believe that the audience the IJU is targeting is mostly Turkish and Germans from a Turkish origin. The importance of this is that the IJU is seeking members outside Central Asia due to the fact that most CAR Islamists are committed to being active in the region and are less interested in global Jihad. Therefore, the IJU whose activities and ambitions exceed the Uzbek national borders are the perfect tool in al-Qaeda’s hands to recruit the Turks. In this sense, it is important for al-Qaeda to cooperate with the IJU; especially that al Qaeda is predominantly Arab and did not succeed so far in the recruitment of large numbers of Turks. To integrate the Turks in al-Qaeda and convince them to be part of the global Jihad it will enhance the general trend -observed since 2001- that al-Qaida organization has transformed from being almost 90% Arab to a mixture of Pakistanis, Kurds and an increasing number of European Muslims. Therefore, the Islamic Jihad Union has become a great assistant to al-Qaeda in spite of the fact that the IJU is a small organization and it is possible to disappear quickly after being subjected to some severe blows, such as those it suffered during the raid in 2008. The IJU strength lies in the support of Taliban and al Qaeda[75].

Yet, the question to be asked here is: Will the IJU remain faithful to al-Qaeda’s global Jihad or will they redirect their goals and activities towards Central Asia only –just like the IMU-, especially after the death of bin-Laden?  There are lots of uncertainties surrounding the future of Islamist movements (whether local or global) in Central Asia and its ties with al-Qaeda in the shadow of bin-Laden’s death, Taliban’s negotiations with the United States, and the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.


Deductions & Analysis


-Due to the secretive nature of terrorist organizations and the mutual media, cyber, and psychological war, it was very hard to find concrete data related to such organizations. Many data we found asserted at one source, was denied at another. Thus, there was trouble finding data about the actual reasons behind the IMU split, the outcome splinters, and the actual objectives of the new IMU and its splinters -mainly the IJU (whether the objectives are global or local Jihad). Also, there is no specific data on the extent of their relations and differences with al-Qaeda. In addition, we faced the problem of ‘author’s biases’ at many sources. Some English resources (whether the writer is American, German, Russian, or such) hid prejudice against Islam as a religion in their writings while others showed lack of knowledge about Islam as a religion, a culture, and as a banner that terrorists hide their actions behind. Thus, their analysis and interpretations were overshadowed by their pre-existing assumptions and perceptions about Islam. On the other side, many Arabic, Persian, Turkish, and Uzbek resources (especially those that belonged to the terrorist groups or supported them) reflected exaggeration about casualties from both sides, logistic and military information and sometimes false information concerning the success or frailer of terrorists’ operations.  Not to mention the prejudice of writers and analysts from the Greater Middle Eastern region either in support of the Islamists against the West or vies-versa. Therefore, we had to filter data from all resources in order to draw a realistic picture of ‘al-Qaeda in Central Asia’ as much as possible.


- TheTablighi” –which is considered by many Western writers the source of Tahir Yuldashev and Juma Namangani extremism- is in fact one of the benign Islamic groups that provided emotional and social support to Muslims in the Indian subcontinent. The group’s strategy is based on spreading the good word and teaching others how to worship God through prayer, teaching Islam, respecting fellow Muslims, and being good to society and others. To do that, they abandoned luxurious life, travel on foot carrying only some food, water, and small mattress to sleep on[76]. Understanding who and what is this group makes us realize that ignorance of Islam and Islamic groups can sometimes make the writer build his analysis on false assumptions which leads him to unreliable conclusions.


-Up till now, we cannot talk about al-Qaeda’s actual presence in Central Asia; the issue we can investigate is its attempts to expand to the region and its efforts to establish connections and agreements with local radicals. We could not find any material evidence of al-Qaeda’s support to Central Asian terrorist organization yet; this will require a lot of time and investigation to materialize. On the other hand, the movement of militants from one organization to another (from the IMU to the IJU) is certain, especially with the constant travel of clerics, fighters, and militants between Afghanistan, Pakistan, CAR, and Europe. What we do know is that the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan was ready to fight on behalf of al Qaeda in 2001 but lost interest in global Jihad afterwards (especially after the death of many of its members and Juma Namangani in 2001 and after the death of its founder Tahir Yuldashev in 2010). On the other hand, al-Qaeda was not prepared to leave its global agenda to help the IMU achieve its local objectives against Islam Karimov.


-   To defeat international jihadist movement - directly or indirectly related to al-Qaeda -, we need to understand the world of jihadi groups associated or inspired by al-Qaeda’s ideas. This is the most important security challenge facing the United States today. It is important to distinguish al-Qaeda and its affiliates who adopt international jihadist agenda from traditional or local jihadi movements that are merely a campaign of armed resistance waged by Islamic groups against opponents. Such groups only have local objectives that are usually limited to their society in a narrow geographical scope such as al-Akramieh organization and the Islamic Renaissance Party ‘al-Nahda’ in Uzbekistan, as well as Hizb ut-Tahrir in Turkmenistan. Al-Qaeda and its affiliate, on the other hand, target the United States and its allies across the world and track its targets throughout a wide geopolitical range such as al-Qaeda cells in Europe and the United States (before 9/11).


-   However, we cannot overlook the establishment of local Jihadi organizations that tied itself with al-Qaeda and its global agenda. Many already launched deadly strikes on Western targets. These groups constitute a new set of possible challenges to the U.S. Global combat on terrorism and require a major change in the strategy that was followed so far against al Qaeda. Terrorist groups or jihadist in this category have dual nature since it is concerned with: local Jihad and global Jihad. Therefore, these groups hold a potential risk that may extend beyond their direct environment. The hybrid nature of these groups stems from their ideological and operational interaction with the international jihadist movement, al-Qaeda. Some of these organizations have fully incorporated in al-Qaeda (such as the Islamic Jihad Movement in Egypt which was led by al-Zawahiri) or appear to be moving in this direction (such as Algerian Salafi Jihad movement) and there are a handful of organizations that we can call supporter movement who carry out al-Qaeda’s orders when asked to do so such as ‘Leshker-Tayba’ in Pakistan, but it seems that most groups give priority to their local communities agendas especially that al-Qaeda is weakened by the U.S strikes. In Central Asia, the IMU and the IJU fall under this category.


-the IMU and IJU were recruiting young people from Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and even Kazakhstan. Thus, it has become normal to connect and cooperate with other groups from the region and with al-Qaeda. They viewed such cooperation in their best interest, especially if the new fighters joining them cared for neither the client nor the victim, but put the title of their so-called religion above all.


-Links between these groups and al-Qaeda ranged from logistical and financial support to joint operations and joint strategy meetings. These relations were often the product of contacts that were established in the midst of war against the Soviets in Afghanistan which strengthened later on in training camps that took place in areas under Taliban control. Any decision taken by these groups to work with Global-Jihadist had a pragmatic nature and was taken on the basis that cooperation with al-Qaeda will be effective in supporting the struggle at home. But recently, many of these groups realized that cooperation with al-Qaeda had negative consequences on their struggle at the homeland front, and they started to wonder about the wisdom and the benefit of maintaining ties with al Qaeda.


-Prior to 1996, al Qaeda made great effort in supporting the Afghani resistance against Soviet occupation. This effort that had strengthened the relationship between al-Qaeda and the Taliban brought an end to differences and the struggle between Afghan mujahedeen groups on power after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan. Taliban was able to control over 90% of Afghani territory. During this period there was no disagreement between al-Qaeda and Taliban. The dispute began after the establishment of al-Qaeda’sglobal jihad against the Jews and Crusaders’ front. Several Islamist groups rejected al-Qaeda’s doctrine and this disagreement reached its peak after the events of September 11, 2001.
Moderate Islamic groups demanded al-Qaeda to rationalize its strategies, limit its objectives to fight occupiers in the Islamic world, stop the expansion of conflict to all countries of the world, and bombing and killing innocent citizens in the Islamic world as well as the rest of the world. Today, there are large sections in the Muslim world that reject the work of al-Qaeda and its attacks in the Islamic world. They have discovered the error in al-Qaeda’s ideology and strategy and the negative results that have come out of it.


-We can say that there are certain areas of dispute between al Qaeda, and its affiliates or other Islamists in Central Asia specially the IMU and IJU:


1-   Disagreement on religious level:
Central Asia's Muslims have traditionally practiced Islam according to the Hanafi School of Islamic jurisprudence, which is known for its moderation and rationality. Hanafi school of Jurisprudence along with the other three schools are the ones called Salafi, and this notion ‘Salafi’ has nothing to do with violent and bloody activities that terrorists are doing these days. What al-Qaeda and its affiliates call ‘Salafi’ is the Wahhabi doctrine that was established by Ibin-Taymieh and spread in the Arabian Peninsula by Mohammad bin-AbdulWahhab. Although there have been Wahhabis who reject all four schools of Islamic jurisprudence in the area, historically they have not played a strong role in the region. As we said earlier, despite their cooperation with al-Qaeda in 2001, the IMU refused to adopt Wahhabism and that was one of the sources of conflict between the IMU and Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda. The IJU on the other hand, adopted Wahhabism knowing that most of its members are of Turk origins and who mostly come from Germany where they have been born and lived there entire lives. Thus, we can say that most of the IJU members do not come from Central Asia, are not that familiar with the nature of its history of struggle for freedom and Islamic awakening, and more susceptible to be influenced by al-Qaeda’s global Jihad to defend the land of Islam.

2-    Disagreement on objectives level
When the Global Front to combat Jews and Crusaders was declared, Taliban were in control of 90% of Afghan territory leaving only 10% of it under the control of the northern opposition alliance led by Ahmad Shah Masoud. Taliban believed that their goal at that stage should be to mobilized efforts in order to complete their control of Afghanistan and then to build a powerful Islamic state on modern foundations. Whereas al-Qaeda had already set targets far from that goal and declared Jihad on the Jews and the Crusaders aiming at expelling the United States from the Gulf and Saudi Arabia and the Jews from Palestine. In addition, they offered support for Kashmir rebels and Islamists in Chechnya to obtain their independence. These objectives al-Qaeda did not have the ability to achieve and their attempts to achieve them led to the loss of the achievable target which was building an Islamic state in Afghanistan in 2002.
Thus, we must note then that difference between al-Qaeda and other groups on the objective level concentrate around what radicals define "the distinction between the near enemy and far enemy”. For Taliban the near enemy was the Soviets and once they were free they wanted to establish their state and consolidate it before thinking of the far enemy. For the IMU, the near enemies were Islam Karimov and its regime and at best the CAR regimes. IMU members were fighting Karimov regime when they were still in Uzbekistan. But after they fled their homeland and became refugees in Taliban’s territories, they had to fight alongside Taliban in the counterterrorism war forced on both of them by al-Qaeda in return for providing them with safe havens. Some of the IMU members adopted al-Qaeda’s “far enemy before near enemy” idea while other remained faithful to their local cause.


3-   Disagreement on pragmatic level:
Al-Qaeda’s leader always claimed that the United States had the intention from the beginning to destroy Taliban’s state in Afghanistan. However, a pragmatic reading of reality shows that in the post-Soviet era, Taliban had a great opportunity to engage in a strategic relationship with the United States based on mutual interests and respect within the framework of the U.S. desire to have a strong ally in South and Central Asia to support Pakistan’s efforts to counter the Iranian threat as well as the Russian and Chinese. But, Taliban refused such relations and insisted on keeping al-Qaeda on its territories. Today, al-Qaeda is claiming that the United States is going to control natural resources in CAR and thus control its rulers through the U.S. military bases there. The organization believes that by spreading these claims they might mobilize Islamists to their favor.

Another claim by al-Qaeda is that the United States is leading a global crusade against Islam and that is the reason behind the establishment of the ‘Global Front for Jihad Crusaders and Jews’ in 1998. This claim is also false because the United States supported the Mujahedeen during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan which means that interests and not religion is the primer vector of the U.S. foreign policy.


4-   Disagreement on strategic level:

The consequences of al-Qaeda’s classifying enemies into Crusaders and the Jews who represent more than half the population of the world make us sense the size of the rival this organization created. Al-Qaeda is fighting the United States (which is a nuclear superpower) and under the concept of Crusaders we can list the entire Christian world in Europe and the Americas, Asia and Africa as well as the Jews. There is also the Russian Federation (a nuclear superpower) on the background of al-Qaeda’s support of rebels in Chechnya and Dagestan.  We must also include India (a nuclear power in Asian) on the background of supporting Kashmiri Muslim rebels. There are also states in Africa such as Kenya and Tanzania on the background of the bombing of U.S. embassies, and in Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Algeria, Morocco, Indonesia, Pakistan and Tajikistan in addition to Iran, against the backdrop of the dispute with the Taliban and the Afghan Northern Alliance opposition, led by Burhanuddin Rabbani.  So, instead of moving in the direction of neutralizing all enemies, helping the Taliban to resolve the internal opposition in the north, and engage in a strategic alliance with the United States and the West that can support the emerging State in Afghanistan, Al Qaeda's strategy went in the opposite direction. Al-Qaeda dragged the whole region in aggravated conflicts and generated more enemies and pressure on it and the Taliban rather than establishing a supporting base to build a strong Islamic state. If al-Qaeda is moving with this mentality, strategy, and goals towards Central Asia, then Islamists in CAR should expect history to repeat itself in their region and that they will face the same destiny as the Taliban. For example, Uzbek Islamists will not only face the rage of Karimov’s regime,  the pursuit of al-Qaeda will trigger a war on religious bases from surrounding countries (especially Russia and China) as well as the NATO, the United States, and many other countries. Thus, the Uzbek Islamists are surely to lose their cause.


5-   Disagreement on killing the innocent and civilians:
in 2006 and 2007, victims of terrorist attacks were mostly Muslims. They constituted 50% of the total number of civilians killed or injured by terrorists in 2007, according to an analysis of the National Center for Combating Terrorism[77]. According to the report, children were increasingly the victims of terrorism in 2007, with 2,400 killed or injured in the attacks, an increase of 25% from the previous year. As in 2005, the government officials, teachers, journalists, and professionals were targeted by terrorists. The IMU and other CAR Islamists rejected al-Qaeda’s strategy of “al-Tatarros” (Shields) and targeting and killing civilians. They believe that since their enemy is defined nothing justifies killing civilians. This specific strategy is what made many Islamists –among which the IMU- drift away from al-Qaeda because it made them lose Muslim population support of their cause in the entire Islamic world.

-Today,  after the death of many of its leaders and the extensive hits it suffered due to war on terrorism, Al-Qaeda is isolated, unsupported,  lack safe havens, lack financial resources, and lack cohesive leadership.


-Islamists organizations in Central Asia may develop and prosper without the need and dependence on Al-Qaeda, all sharing a mutual ideological concept; resistance against their local oppressors.






By understanding the nature of the relationship between al-Qaeda and CAR Islamists, It follows that the overall U.S. strategy must go beyond the traditional theory of the fight against terrorism and activates other factors such as ideological and political aspects in conjunction with the military aspect.  This holistic strategy consists of four major methods:

First, attack the ideological foundations of global jihad. This includes depriving extremists of the political use of Islamic discourse. To do so requires strengthening and empowerment moderate Islamists to counter the influence of radicals. In central Asia, the Sophists are among moderate Islamists. Thus, strengthening this movement politically and allowing it to spread moderate thinking among the youth will counter the work of extremists. In any case, the United States should not involve directly in this effort, it should be carried out through Sophists in order for their ideology to be accepted by their society. Otherwise, it might be seen as the product of the west and hence, rejected and attacked.

Second, separate between all groups working within the field of terrorism and global jihad.

The achievement of this goal depends on reducing the usefulness of CRA Islamists relations with al-Qaeda. A number of Islamic movements that had maintained some sort of relationship with al Qaeda and its allies before Sept. 11, such as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in the Philippines have distanced itself from bin-Laden in order to avoid involvement on the losing side of the war on terrorism. The IMU did the same but after it lost most of its members and leaders. Thus, it is necessary to encourage Islamists to distance themselves from al-Qaeda by revealing and stressing the devastating outcomes of association with Global Jihad. On the other hand, the United States should also stress the benefits of peaceful engagement in modern state system by highlighting the ‘Ikwan’ and the so-called ‘Salafi’ success in reaching power in Egypt and Tunisia. This might encourage CAR Islamist to avoid extremism and organize in peaceful movements.


Third, deprive terrorists from safe havens. The United States can prevent al-Qaeda and its affiliates from establishing safe havens anywhere in Central Asia through further security cooperation with CRA that are exposed to attacks by al-Qaeda and its allies.

Fourth, strengthen the capacity of Frontline States to fight the local jihadist threats. Since many of the terrorist groups are active in areas that are not under the total control of governments –such as Fergana Valley- the United States must help in strengthening the capacity of those governments to enable them to extend their influence and control over those areas. Terrorists also exploit areas where border are free from control and easy to penetrate. Therefore, the United States should also strengthen the ability of governments to control its borders. In this sense, the U.S. military forces have to carry out operations with CAR police forces, intelligence, and military forces, which create a new set of requirements in the fields of military and political relations as well as operational cooperation.






[1] Central Asian Republics
[2] The Library of Congress, Profile: Central Asian Countries, <>
[3] Rafis Abazov. “Political Islam in Central Asia: Leaving Political Scene or Gathering Momentum”, International Journal of Central Asian Studies, Institute of Asian Culture and Development, Volume 3 1998, Pp.:9-11 <>
[4] Rafis Abazov. “Political Islam in Central Asia: Leaving Political Scene or Gathering Momentum”, International Journal of Central Asian Studies, Institute of Asian Culture and Development, Volume 3 1998, Pp.:11 <>
[5] Aleksei Malashenko, “ISLAM AND POLITICS IN CENTRAL ASIAN STATES”, The CA&CC Press® AB /Central Asia & Central Caucasus Press, 2010 <>
[6] Martha Brill Olcott, “THE ROOTS OF RADICAL ISLAM IN CENTRAL ASIA”, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Carnegie Paper No. 77, January 2007, Pp.:4-16 <>
See also, Rafis Abazov. “Political Islam in Central Asia: Leaving Political Scene or Gathering Momentum”, International Journal of Central Asian Studies, Institute of Asian Culture and Development, Volume 3 1998, Pp.: 4-28 <>
[7] Eric McGlinchey, “Three Perspectives on Political Islam in Central Asia”, PONARS Eurasia Policy Memo No. 76, September 2009
[8] Human Rights Watch, “2005: Exposing the Andijan Massacre”, March 11, 2011, <>
[9] Fawaz A. Gerges, “America and Political Islam: Clash of Cultures or clash of interests?”, Cambridge University Press, 1999, Pp.: 106.
[10] Fawaz A. Gerges, “America and Political Islam: Clash of Cultures or clash of interests?”, Cambridge University Press, 1999, Pp.: 106.
[11] Deirdre Tynan, “Central Asia: Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan Confront a Financial Disaster”,, November 9, 2008 <>
[12] Michael Scheuer, “Central Asia in Al-Qaeda’s Vision of the Anti-American Jihad, 1979-2006”, Central Asia-Caucasus Institute, China and Eurasia Forum Quarterly, Volume 4, No. 2 (2006), Pp.: 5-10
[13] Central Asian Jihadists
[14] Arab Jihadists
[15] He is believed to be the spiritual leader of al-Qaeda. Born in 1941 in Jinnee in Palestine (before the declaration of the State on Israel) he was religiously brought up according to the Brotherhood (al-Ikwan) doctrine. There are climes that the United States killed Azzam in 1989 to stop him from turning Jihadists against it. He died in a car bomb along with two of his children.
[16] Many of the mujahedeen brought their wives and children along with them to Pakistan and Afghanistan, while other single mujahedeen got married there and had children.
[17] Phil Gasper, “Afghanistan, the CIA, bin Laden, and the Taliban”, Third World Traveler, International Socialist Review, November-December 2001 <>
[18] Phil Gasper, “Afghanistan, the CIA, bin Laden, and the Taliban”, Third World Traveler, International Socialist Review, November-December 2001 <>
[19] John Rollins, “Al Qaeda and Affiliates: Historical Perspective, Global Presence, and Implications for U.S. Policy”, Congressional Research Services, February 5, 2010, Pp.: 3-5 <>
[20] Osama bin-Laden, “Jihad against Jews and Crusaders: World Islamic Front Statement”, February 23, 1998 <>
[21] John Rollins, “Al Qaeda and Affiliates: Historical Perspective, Global Presence, and Implications for U.S. Policy”, Congressional Research Service, February 5, 2010, Pp.:1-10 <>
Also see: Michel Chossudovsky, “Al Qaeda and the War on Terrorism", Global Research, January 20, 2008 <>
[22] Referring to the IMU
[23] the spiritual father of Osama bin Laden until his assassination at the hands of U.S. special forces
  أساف مليح,"عبد الله عزام وتأثير مذهبه الفكري على مفهوم الجهاد والاستشهاد عند القاعدة وحماس", ترجمة مركز عكا لمتابعة مستجدات الشأن الإسرائيلي[24]
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 translation of this article at the following link:
[25] This idea was highly supported by the United States during the 1980s as means to contain the Soviet Union and Iran at the same time by establishing a strong Sunni Islamic State in Afghanistan that is supported by the United States and Arab states especially the rich oil countries in the Persian Gulf.
  أساف مليح,"عبد الله عزام وتأثير مذهبه الفكري على مفهوم الجهاد والاستشهاد عند القاعدة وحماس", ترجمة مركز عكا لمتابعة مستجدات الشأن الإسرائيلي[26]
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 translation of this article at the following link:
[27] It is more of a Wahhabi-combat doctrine; the four basic Muslim schools (Shafe’ieh, Hanbalieh, Maliki, and Hanafi) rejected Ibin-Taymieh’s doctrine (the source of Wahhabism) and considered him infidel ‘kafer’. That’s why followers of the four schools sentenced him to life in prison (so that he will not spread his doctrine among Muslims) where he died. They also forbid Muslim from following his doctrine which they considered most of it against Muslim’s Sharia law. Those four schools are considered Salafi and not Wahhabism or any other radical doctrine that use Islam to reach political gains through violent means.  
[28]  Salih Sarieh left a collection of radical writings, the most important of which is "message of faith," which was re-printed several times at the end of the seventies. The main ideas contained in this document are:
- Jihad is the only way to  establish Islamic states
- It is forbidden to obey infidels and infidel regimes, and to do so is an infidelity. The person who dies in defense of the infidel government against those who want to establish an Islamic state is an infidel unless he was forced to do so; it is a matter of intention. Participating in a non-Islamic party is infidelity, as well as participating in the Masson global association and/or embracing the philosophy of pragmatism is infidelity.
- Current regimes and rulers are considered by him infidels and the society is stamped as ignorant, it is Dar al-Harb 'the world of war'.
- Islamists can form political parties and participate in election, enter Parliament and participate in the ministries, in order to reach power and turn the country into an Islamic state.
- It is permissible for a Muslim to enter into the various powers of the State by order of the Islamic Group, and uses his position to help the group to gain power or mitigate sentences in case of distress. The person can become a minister even under tyrant ruler of his intention is to help the group.
- The person who obeys the state's orders against the Islamic movement is an infidel.
-In the case of a Muslim candidate, against a Socialist, national, or communist candidates if a person voted against the Muslim candidate and other were elected  that person becomes an infidel .
- those who are fighting clergy's because they mix Islam and politics against Islam are considered infidels because they failed in recognizing the whole aspects of Islam, they believed in one  and disbelieve other aspects.
- Opponents of the laws of Islam who accuse religion of being backward and reactionary are infidels, as well as those who object to the provision of God.
-  Any collective abandonment of one of Islam's pillars is infidelity.
- All laws contrary to Islam in the state are considered infidelity and all those who abide by them and refrain from rejecting them are considered infidels
رياض حسن محرم ,"الجماعات السلفية الجهادية..وفقه التكفير(1)", الحوار المتمدن - العدد: 2155 - 2008 / 1 / 9  <>
Reyad Hassan Moharram, "Jihadi-Salafi Groups and the doctrine of  Infidelity (1)", Modern Discussions, issue No. 2155, September 1, 2008, <>
[29]Montaser al-Zayat (lawyer specializing in Islamic groups in Egypt, he is mainly the Brotherhood lawyer), “The Concept of Shields in Suicide Bombings”,, November 17, 2007. The article is originally in Arabic, it is translated from in the following link:
[31]Ayman al-Zawahiri , “Knights under the Prophet's Banner”, Council of Tawheed & Jihad,  (2001),  You can find this book  at the following link:
[32] You can find the translation of this book at the following link:
[33] Ayman al-Zawahiri, “Knights under the Prophet's Banner”, Council of Tawheed & jihad, (2001), Pp.: 95 & 241. <>
[34] Abu Musab al-Suri, “Muslims in Central Asia and the next battle of Islam “, Council of Goraba (1999), Pp.: 21-4.
[35] Michael Scheuer, “Central Asia in Al Qaeda’s Vision of the Anti-American Jihad, 1979-2006”, Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program, China and Eurasia Forum Quarterly, Volume 4, No. 2 (2006) p. 5-10 
[36] Rajeh Said, “Al-Qaeda's increasing donation appeals reflect severe funding shortage”,, October 28, 2010
[37] Rajeh Said, “Recent losses in ranks weaken al-Qaeda's capabilities”,, September 9, 2011
Also see:
Rajeh Said, “Hemorrhaging in al-Qaeda's ranks continues following death of Abdel Rahman”,, August 30, 2011
[38] Farzad Lameh, “Taliban leaders offer intelligence about al-Qaeda”,, May 23, 2011 <>
[39]Guido Steinberg, A Turkish al-Qaeda: The Islamic Jihad Union and the Internationalization of Uzbek Jihadism “, Strategic Insights, Volume VII, Issue 3 (July 2008), Pp.: 2, < >
[40] Parviz Mullodzhanov, “IMU becomes multinational force: The organization has significantly transformed its activities, ideology and tactics” Central Asia online, March 17, 2010 <>
[41] Parviz Mullodzhanov, “IMU becomes multinational force: The organization has significantly transformed its activities, ideology and tactics” Central Asia online, March 17, 2010 <>
[42] Rafis Abazov. “Political Islam in Central Asia: Leaving Political Scene or Gathering Momentum”, International Journal of Central Asian Studies, Institute of Asian Culture and Development, Volume 3 1998, Pp.: 4-28 <>
[43] It means Justice
[44]Hans-Ing Lango, “The rise of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan”, Part One, Hegemonic Obsessions, March 2, 2011 <>
[45] See the “Deductions &Analysis” part at the end of this section for more details about the false claims of the mentioned researcher on the nature of this Islamist group.
[46] American Foreign Policy Council's World Almanac of Islamism, "Uzbekistan: Overview", July 14, 2011 <>
[47] It is also the name of the official website and media center of the IMU
[48] (10/10/2009) Samir Hussein, "Political Parties in Uzbekistan: The deliberate absence by the system",  Central Asia, October 10, 2009 <!%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DX%26biw%3D1055%26bih%3D543%26prmd%3Dimvns&>
[49] American Foreign Policy Council's World Almanac of Islamism, "Uzbekistan: Overview", July 14, 2011 <>
[50]Hans-Ing Lango, “The rise of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan”, Part two & three, Hegemonic Obsessions, March 2, 2011 <>  
[51] American Foreign Policy Council's World Almanac of Islamism, "Uzbekistan: Overview", July 14, 2011 <>
[52] Global Jihad .net, “ISLAMIC MOVEMENT OF UZBEKISTAN – IMU”, July 2, 2008 <>
[53] AbduMannob Polat, “REASSESSING ANDIJAN: THE ROAD TO RESTORING U.S.-UZBEK RELATIONS”, The Jamestown Foundation, June 2007, Pp.:5 <>
[54] Abubakar Siddique, “In Afghanistan, IMU-Taliban Alliance Chips Away at the Stone Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, June 09, 2011 <>
[55] RIA Novosti, “Leader of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan threatens the heads of Central Asian countries”, elaph news, September 14, 2006

[56] Institute for the study of war ISW, “Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and the Changing Face of Uzbek Militancy (Small Wars Journal), no date specified, <>

[57] Hans-Ing Lango, “The rise of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan”, Part four, Hegemonic Obsessions, March 2, 2011 <>  
[58] Hans-Ing Lango, “The rise of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan”, Part two, Hegemonic Obsessions, March 2, 2011 <>  
[59] Guido Steinberg, “A Turkish al-Qaeda: The Islamic Jihad Union and the Internationalization of Uzbek Jihadism”, Center for Contemporary Conflict, 2008 <>
[60] Parviz Mullodzhanov, “IMU becomes multinational force: The organization has significantly transformed its activities, ideology and tactics”, Central Asia Online, March 17, 2010 <>
[61] Guido Steinberg, “A Turkish al-Qaeda: The Islamic Jihad Union and the Internationalization of Uzbek Jihadism”, Center for Contemporary Conflict, 2008 <>
[62] Guido Steinberg, “A Turkish al-Qaeda: The Islamic Jihad Union and the Internationalization of Uzbek Jihadism”, Center for Contemporary Conflict, 2008 <>
[63] Guido Steinberg, “A Turkish al-Qaeda: The Islamic Jihad Union and the Internationalization of Uzbek Jihadism”, Center for Contemporary Conflict, 2008 <>
[64] Global Jihad .net, “Islamic Jihad Union – IJU”, July 2, 2008 <>
[65] Shakar Saadi, “IMU commits terrorist attacks abroad Former members say IMU targets Pakistani security forces” Central Asia online, July 20, 2007, <>
[66] Hans-Ing Lango, “The rise of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan”, Part four, Hegemonic Obsessions, March 2, 2011 <>
Also: Global Jihad .net, “ISLAMIC JIHAD UNION – IJU”, July 2, 2008 <>
[67] Parviz Mullodzhanov, “IMU becomes multinational force: The organization has significantly transformed its activities, ideology and tactics”, Central Asia Online, March 17, 2010 <>
[68], Jundallah tells all about the history of the IMU, blog, <>
[69], Jundallah tells all about the history of the IMU, blog, <>
[70] Ahl al-Sunna wal-Jama’a, “AbdulWahhab and His Group”,  <>

عبدالله الصالح, “حركة أوزبكستان الإسلامية.. طاهر يولداشوف.. طاهر يولداش (2)  صدام الأوزبك مع العرب و"القاعدة" في أفغانستان,”21 أيلول (سبتمبر)   2007[71]

See this article translated at:
[72] GMT 10:15:00 2006 الخميس 14 سبتمبر Guido Steinberg, A Turkish al-Qaeda: The Islamic Jihad Union and the Internationalization of Uzbek Jihadism “, Strategic Insights, Volume VII, Issue 3 (July 2008), < >
[73] GMT 10:15:00 2006 الخميس 14 سبتمبر Guido Steinberg, A Turkish al-Qaeda: The Islamic Jihad Union and the Internationalization of Uzbek Jihadism “, Strategic Insights, Volume VII, Issue 3 (July 2008), < >
[74] Guido Steinberg, A Turkish al-Qaeda: The Islamic Jihad Union and the Internationalization of Uzbek Jihadism “, Strategic Insights, Volume VII, Issue 3 (July 2008), < >
[75] GMT 10:15:00 2006 الخميس 14 سبتمبر Guido Steinberg, A Turkish al-Qaeda: The Islamic Jihad Union and the Internationalization of Uzbek Jihadism “, Strategic Insights, Volume VII, Issue 3 (July 2008), < >
[76] Aswan Faculty of Engineering, “History of Islamic Movements” <
[77] National Center for Combating Terrorism, “NCTC Report on Terrorist Incidents – 2006”, April 30, 2007, Pp.: 4

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