Uzbek Militants Selling out Arab Compatriots

by Nathan Hamm on 5/10/2005 · 2 comments

(Via James Joyner) It seems that Al Qaeda is not an equal opportunity employer. Non-Arab Islamic militants–mostly Uzbeks and Chechens–are proving a valuable source of information on Al Qaeda in Pakistan.

The Uzbeks and other Central Asians found themselves competing with Arab members of al-Qaida for hideouts and resources with Arabs having the political and economic advantage, Katzman said.

Adding to the tensions was a lack of trust by senior al-Qaida figures in the Central Asian fighters, said a senior Pakistani Interior Ministry official.

Another Pakistani security agent said the Central Asians “were al-Qaida’s foot soldiers, but they were never promoted. They felt ignored. The Central Asians were not happy,” he added. “Osama bin laden and (his Egyptian deputy) Ayman al-Zawahri only trusted Arabs.”

Increasingly, the two sides began operating independently, often competing for the same money, weapons and dwindling areas of influence among the Pakistani tribesmen. Captured Uzbek, Chechen and Tajik fighters felt far more loyalty to Yuldash than to the Arab al-Qaida men.

The Pakistani intelligence official said it was difficult to get captured Uzbeks to talk about Yuldash, “but it was a lot easier to grill them for clues about the Arabs and their possible hideouts. They felt far less loyalty.”

Though no one is saying this was a factor in his arrest, but Abu Faraj al-Libbi is known to have had problems with Uzbeks.


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– 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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