There He Goes Again

by Nathan Hamm on 7/31/2004

Karimov is blaming Hizb ut-Tahrir for the Friday attacks.

President Islam Karimov’s government has said a group called Hizb ut-Tahrir was involved in the March bombings, and on Saturday the president pointed the finger at them again.

He said media reports implicating another group, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) — blamed for a series of bombings in 1999 — were a smokescreen to divert attention away from Hizb ut-Tahrir.

“From the very beginning some started spreading allegations that IMU was responsible for the blasts,” he said. “If the IMU takes the blame for yesterday’s events it may produce the impression that Hizb ut-Tahrir is innocent. That is what they want to show.”

You know what one of the biggest weaknesses of dictatorships might be? The lack of the press secretary. Even if Karimov’s allegation is true, it’s a little difficult to swallow. If he can’t back it up, he should keep his mouth shut as this behavior only makes it more difficult for Western governments to fully and publicly support him.

I don’t doubt for a second that Hizb ut-Tahrir is the biggest political threat that Uzbekistan faces. I also am fairly convinced that Hizb ut-Tahrir is peaceful. Further, I am sure that Hizb ut-Tahrir, whether it wants to or not, functions as a radicalizing organization from which many members move on to violent organizations. Finally, I am convinced that once it reaches a certain level of support, Hizb ut-Tahrir’s only avenue of overthrowing secular governments would be through violence.

Despite all of that, I have a hard time believing that HT has, after about 50 years of activity, decided that occasional suicide bombs in a former Soviet Republic are the new key to restoring that Caliphate. Former HT members that have formed a violent group? Maybe. People who are members of each? I might buy that. What Karimov’s saying? I’d love it to be true, but I really need proof.

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Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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