News From The Trial

by Nathan Hamm on 8/23/2004

As Alisher mentioned the other day, the request for the death penalty in the case of the 15 who confessed to involvement in the March bombings has been dropped.* Instead, they face 20-year sentences.

What is of more interest is testimony from the trial.

A woman in her 40s said she had sewn 50 suicide belts.

Some of the men testified to training in Waziristan, in the Pakistani borderlands near Afghanistan.

The evidence put forward is dense and at times hard to follow, but the picture emerging seems to be that the Uzbek group was planning a much wider series of attacks, possibly at foreign embassies and international hotels.

This plan apparently stalled, leaving a handful of militants to hit an assortment of targets, mainly policemen.

According to the prosecution, one of those involved was a Kazakh national, heavily involved in the Uzbek radical Islamic movement.

The Kazakstan connection is interesting. In earlier testimony, the defendants said they were trained in Kazakstan and the Kazak government flipped and denied everything. Well, it’s beginning to look like Kazakstan may have a problem that it was either unaware of or unwilling to own up to. One of the three men involved in the more recent bombings was from Kazakstan. In fact, if the unnamed Uzbek source in the story is correct, the Kazaks might have some ‘splainin’ to do.

An Uzbek Interior Ministry officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, told reporters Shoyusupov had been arrested by Kazakh police after the attacks in the spring.

Uzbekistan had asked for him to be extradited, but the request was declined and Shoyusupov was freed, he said.

“Why he was set free is a question for the Kazakhs,” the officer said. Kazakh officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Finally, today’s RFE/RL Central Asia Newsline reports that the murder of an Uzbek citizen–apparently a detective investigating reports of terrorist training in southern Kazakstan–in Shymkent may be connected to terrorist groups in Kazakstan.

Just so it is clear that I’m not heaping it on Kazakstan, they are taking reports of terrorists operating in their country very seriously and are cooperating with the Uzbek government to investigate the bombings in Tashkent.

* Reached for comment, Rachel Denber, acting executive director of Human Rights Watch’s Europe and Central Asia division, said,

This is but a small step in the right direction. While we applaud the regime’s decision in this case, I still lack the power to create edible rainbows on demand, so, you know, we’ve got work to do.

Or maybe she didn’t, but that’s probably what it would have sounded like. All I know is I get strange and mean when I’m tired. But then again, I think they’re telling a bit of a fib,

The attacks have been used by Tashkent as justification for a crackdown on Islamists and opposition supporters that has led to widespread torture and detention without trial, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).

I could have sworn that fewer people were arrested than in April, which itself was 10% of the number arrested in 1999. Then again, my paycheck doesn’t require the existence of crises, so I can say whatever I want.

P.S. I know that I received some of these stories from Laurence.

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This post was written by...

– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

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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