FROM THE FERGHANA VALLEY TO WAZIRISTAN AND BEYOND: THE ROLE OF UZBEK ISLAMIC EXTREMISTS IN THE CIVIL WARS OF TAJIKISTAN, AFGHANISTAN, AND PAKISTAN

Uzbek proponents of Islamic extremism have played an important role as foreign participants in the civil wars of Tajikistan and Afghanistan and the present conflict between Pakistani Taliban and security forces in the tribal areas of Pakistan. Their close links to international jihadist networks such as the Al-Qaida and, at times, considerable income from sources outside the region have ensured a continued trickle of new recruits ready to carry on militant activities. At present, recruits arrive even from Europe to fight for Uzbek-led organisations such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and Islamic Jihad Union (IJU). Being regarded as a persistent and serious terrorist threat in Central Asia and elsewhere, the activities of Uzbek extremists have been central to the retention, and even strengthening, of authoritarianism within the Central Asian state structures, thereby directly preventing these states from acquiring any increased level of democracy and popular legitimacy. This paper examines the activities of Uzbek Islamic extremists since about 1990 and the impact they have had in the countries where they acquired bases and influence. In effect, the role played by Uzbek Islamic extremists is a study in the globalisation of terrorism.
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