Code word: Tom & Jerry

Further to my posts on the growing of the Hizb ut-Tahrir’s following in Southern Kyrgyzstan, here’s an article the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) just published on the spread of Islamist propaganda in the form of CDs and videotapes (alias Tom  & Jerry) by one Muhammad Amin – a passionate supporter of the Uzbek exiled Islamic radical Tahir Yoldash.

While the Hizb ut-Tahrir movement has always taken pains to disassociate itself from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), of which Yoldash is supposed to be the leader, on the grounds that the former does not support violence, it is nonetheless worth noting that in face of the “common enemy” the two Islamist groups face, i.e. the secular authoritarian regimes of Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, such disassociation may not remain a permanent fixture.

For what’s worth, the Kyrgyz government has historically been a lot more tolerant to its opposition (both secular and Muslim) than its Uzbek counterpart. One thing, however, is clear, and that is support for more radical Islamist groups in the south of Kyrgyzstan is on the rise. This is sure to have increased pressure on Bakiyev’s domestic policies as well as bilateral relations with neighbouring Uzbekistan.

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INTSUM: Radionuclide Cargo Intercepted at Kyrgyz-Uzbek Border

On 31 December 2007 border control officials at the Kyrgyz-Uzbek border intercepted a cargo with radiation exceeding 1000 mR/hr on a Tajik train, which originated in Kazakhstan and was heading toward Iran. The cargo’s origin itself is unknown. The train passed undetected through three border control checks before Uzbek authorities detected the dangerous cargo and derailed the train back to Kyrgyzstan. Despite the fact that the incident occurred on 31 December, no official information was released until nine days later. Eyewitnesses leaked information to 24 Hours news agency, which published a communiqué on 9 January 2008. A day later, the Central Asia service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty folowed the story with a longer exposé, confirming the incident. Kyrgyz and Uzbek officials are investigating the case.

Analysis:

While the origin of the cargo is at this point unknown, the fact that the train was bound toward Iran is unlikely to be a coincidence, given Tehran’s nuclear activities. This, in combination with local authorities failing to announce the incident for nine days, and subsequently refusing to comment, is likely to raise US and other Western countries’ concerns about Kyrgyz, and Central Asia countries’ in general, involvement in trafficking nuclear materials between former Soviet Union republics and countries in the Middle East with purported interest in acquiring such materials, as well as the latter’s alleged support for terrorism.

Source Reliability: 8

Analytic Confidence: 7

“War on Terror” – Central Asia Style

A BBC video report on the rising growth of the Hizb ut-Tahrir in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan sees the tightening of religious policies and the banning of this Islamic movement as a way of the authoritarian governments of Bakiyev and Karimov to put a gag on opposition.