IJU Call to Action

by Nathan Hamm on 5/13/2005 · 23 comments

The Islamic Jihad Group of Uzbekistan, the folks who took credit for last April’s and last July’s bombings, and who may also in fact be Jamoat, have released a call to action. Human translating machine Lyndon has provided a translation. Here’s a taste:

We believe that the uprising of Muslims in Uzbekistan against the dictatorship is a direct consequence of the repressive policies of the authorities under the leadership of Karimov, and in essence this is an Islamic revolution, which we fully support.

I think they’re full of it, but who’s keeping score? Specifically, I think they’re stretching to call the uprising an Islamic revolution and trying to make their own the actions of others.

In the past, IJU/IMU/Jamoat’s* declarations have gone exactly nowhere and resonated with no one. I expect this time to be no different.

*I lump them all together because they’re kind of used interchangeably all by the same folks as near as I can tell though IMU is used much less often. As far as I know, the violent terrorists in Uzbekistan last year were trained by and very close to the IMU in Pakistan.

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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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Lyndon May 14, 2005 at 12:19 am

Nathan, I’m on my way to work now, but before doing that I woke up a bit early and (what else) translated a few of the latest items from Ferghana.ru here – http://scrapsofmoscow.blogspot.com/2005/05/slaughter-in-andijan-ferghanaru.html – here – http://scrapsofmoscow.blogspot.com/2005/05/people-are-dying-and-they-are-tracking.html – and here – http://scrapsofmoscow.blogspot.com/2005/05/ferghanaru-editor-appaled-by-worlds.html

Hope this helps some of your readers in-country if they are still not able to access Ferghana.ru, which is being cited (along with AFP) by Echo of Moscow radio as the most current source of information.

Eric May 14, 2005 at 6:55 am

Thanks, Nathan and Lyndon, for all your compiling and searching. I just finished my peace corps service in Uz 30 km north of Andijon city. I am following the news attentively and, as I speak Uzbek not russian, you guys have been a huge help. Thanks for the news about Dee as well.

I do disagree with you comments on Mr. Murray. While he certainly has his own agenda his comments on Newsnight seemed spot on to me.

As to Lyndon’s suspisions about the origin of the call to arms- I am sure many of your readers are aware that opposition leaders have, in the past, blamed the government for going so far as to manufacture previous attacks to justify a clampdown. Certainly this note could well be their efforts again. However, it would be natural for the IMU (reportedly devastated in the AFghan war) to want to attach it self to whatever is happening.
I would also expect bubkis to result from it on the ground, but it will be interesting to see how it works it’s way into the mainstream press…

thanks again,

Eric May 14, 2005 at 8:00 am

Karimov blames Hizb-al-tur:

Who say they had nothing to do with it:

Also a link on those pages about Karimov, in the same news conference, claiming there was no order shoot protesters. Whish I guess means that the ordered attacked described by the reliable IWPR:

was a spontaneous thing.
Feel free to draw your own conclusions…


Lyndon May 14, 2005 at 8:19 am


Not that I necessarily believe a word Karimov said, but his comments about an order not to shoot protesters pertained specifically to the situation on today, Saturday the 14th, as opposed to yesterday. So I think it’s possible that both Karimov was correct (at least about that detail) and that the IWPR correspondent was correct about what happened yesterday.


Meder May 14, 2005 at 8:39 am

here in Osh (Kyrgyzstan, 33 miles from Andijon) uzbek people are saying “Karimov’s right!”, “There was no other way to prevent it”… they are scared. even sitting here, they are scared.
and I think that Karimov is quite able to order shoot at people.

Eric May 14, 2005 at 9:03 am

I have to disagree Lyndon. A Reuters quote:

“In his first word on Friday’s violence in Andizhan, Karimov denied any order had been given to troops to open fire, saying the outlawed Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir was responsible for the deaths which followed the rebel seizure of a state building.”

I felt to me like during the Tashkent bombings last year the Uzbek government wasn’t really ready to deal with the resourcefullness of the international press. Karimov is used to having a news blackout, which makes excuses easy.

Meder, are people watching Russian TV news or Uzbeknews in Osh for those reports? There are places in the Uzbek Valley that get Kyrgyrs TV. I wonder if they are now…

Meder May 14, 2005 at 9:12 am

people here are watching both, at least now. in the morning we had some problems with uzbek television. what about kyrgyz tv in Uzbekistan, I don’t think that our companies are able to show snth worth showing

from Fergana.ru: Karasu (Kyrgyzstan, near the borders) is assaulted, city mayor is being a hostage and they are repairing the bridges that used to connect Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan before Uzbek government destroyed them.

Nathan May 14, 2005 at 9:12 am

Eric, I’m a little tentative on totally buying Reuters on Karimov blaming HT. He may have, but the same story says he blamed them for bombings last year. He didn’t. Only the AP reported correctly that he was blaming HT for radicalizing people who moved on to terrorism and that’s why it was dangerous.

Not that I doubt Karimov would give an order to fire, but I honestly could see Uzbek troops getting trigger happy on their own. They always seemed a jittery to me.

Matt W May 14, 2005 at 9:18 am

Of course the government will blame Islamic radicalism, and of course Islamic radicals who want to build a profile in the region will take credit (whether they are bona fide Islamic organizations or puppets of the security services looking to add to Uzbekistan’s international credentials as a bastion of stability against radicals in Central Asia).

No one can, of course, rule out that this was put together by HT or other Islamists, but the imprisonment of the businessmen in Andijon was just one side to the fall of a very influential political clan.

A few months ago, the long-standing (almost since independence) Hokim of Andijon Province, Kobiljon Obidov, was removed and replaced with Begaliev, a relative nobody locally. This was a direct stab at local powers-that-be. Rumor has it that Obidov’s infamous son, Ulug’bek (widely hated as Andijon’s thug #1) was among those arrested, though the former Hokim himself has supposedly been sitting quietly at home. Another widespread rumor has the ex-procuror’s son behind bars for a supposed murder. The Ibragimovs, an influential family intermarried with the Obidovs, became much less visible as well, and construction / operation of their most visible investment projects (notably the Holis complex next to the new bazaar) was stalled. I don’t know how the Ibragimov-connected bank, Hamkorbank, is doing.

(I apologize for not being able to confirm any specific details as to who was arrested or where they were being held– but this kind of detailed information is simply not verifiable, even among well-informed locals– it seems pretty clear though, that Andijon prison housed some rich kids of those who lost power in the recent shake ups– these were mostly hedonistic thugs, rather than hardened HT-style Islamists)

Anyway– there is, of course, no way of knowing for sure, but some very important rackets in Andijon were overturned in the last half year and, to me, a local clan or “mafia” explanation seems the most likely (this doesn’t rule out an Islamist side to the events, perhaps, just seems to me that the prime movers were probably not ideologically motivated).

Eric May 14, 2005 at 9:23 am

Fair point, Nathan.

Meder, please let us know of anything else you pick-up on in Osh. Not much in English about the responce of Uzbeks accross the border, which could be real important.

Nathan May 14, 2005 at 9:31 am

But, if RIA is saying he said it, maybe Reuters got it right this time. Though I’ve heard evidence that casts doubt on the Akramiya-HT links.

Meder May 14, 2005 at 9:33 am

15 minutes ago – http://www.fergana.ru/detail.php?id=1161&mode=snews
translation in short: a lot of Kyrgyzstan officials are right now in Karasu, frontiersmen are saying that they WILL NOT allow any armed people from Uzbekistan to cross the river.
picket line is formed near the borders, people are against Karimov, and they ask to stop killing people.
the bridges are repaired…
couldn’t find anything about uzbek officials, sorry

Lyndon May 14, 2005 at 9:34 am

Eric, I guess it’s neither here not there, but since I haven’t been able to find a full transcript of Karimov’s remarks today anywhere, I have to go with the only concrete quotation from his remarks that I’ve seen regarding an order not to open fire, which was clearly in the context of the protests on Saturday (quoting from my translation of a Lenta.ru story – http://scrapsofmoscow.blogspot.com/2005/05/karimov-speaks-on-andijan-events.html ):

Karimov also said that he had ordered that force not be used against the 200 people protesting on Saturday in front of the Andijan regional administration building.

“Today in front of the regional administration building around 200 people gathered, mainly relatives of those individuals who had earlier seized the administration building. I personally ordered that force or physical violence not be used against these people,” said Karimov.

“Uzbekistan does not do battle with women, elderly people, and children. The city authorities are conducting investigative work among the people on the square, and the forces of society have been involved[?],” said the Uzbek president.


He may have claimed elsewhere in his remarks that he ordered troops not to open fire on Friday as well, but if he did I haven’t seen it, and it’s easy for me to see how the passage you quote from Reuters could be based on the abovementioned quote from Karimov’s remarks. He is quoted by RIA Novosti (in English here – http://en.rian.ru/world/20050514/40302771.html ) as saying, “We did not want bloodshed, we did not want to use force.” Obviously he’s not going to come out and say that he gave the order to open fire, so I guess there isn’t much point in trying to split hairs over what he did or didn’t say in that regard.

He has now announced that he’s going to fire the local police chief in Andijan for letting the situation get out of hand.

Eric May 14, 2005 at 9:35 am

Interesting thoughts Matt. Certainly, reguardless of who was actually in the pen, family, and those dependent on them, would present a good explanation for the well organized, peaceful protest of Thursday. Those wealthier connections you are suggesting could also be a possible explanation for the jail break itself; especially if the family did consider the trail to be hopeless.

Now we are starting to sound like a proper Uzbek political discussion…

Meder May 14, 2005 at 9:43 am

sorry about my comments tawords kyrgyz tv companies. actually, they have shown smth interesting: 539 people on the Uzbek side of the border near Suzak are sitting there and waiting kyrgyz government to open borders for them. they have provided some interviews, and people are asking for a help from kyrgyz government. same situation in Bazaar-korgon.

Eric May 14, 2005 at 9:58 am

I wonder if those trying to flee to Kyrgyrstan are afraid of something in particular or hoping to use the opportunity to go over and stay.? Many Uzbeks in the Valley think of Kyrgyrstan as being an infinitly better place to live.

Lyndon May 14, 2005 at 10:13 am

Meder, I bet you can answer this – Lenta.ru has a story here – http://www.lenta.ru/news/2005/05/14/rally2/ – about a protest in a border city they’re calling Il’ichevsk (Ильичевск) – since there’s a bridge involved and a local official taken hostage, I am assuming this is just another name for the town I’ve seen referred to as Karasu elsewhere?

I am also interested in why non-militant civilians might be trying to cross the borders at this particular time. I think both of the reasons Eric mentions are plausible – but is the border at this moment easier or more difficult to cross than usual. I would imagine the latter (tighter security due to the unrest), but I’ve never even been to the Ferghana Valley so it’s difficult for me to imagine.

Nathan, thanks as always for providing a forum where so many different people can come together and discuss issues and events like this.

Eric May 14, 2005 at 10:19 am

Karasu is the standard crossing point for Uzbek traders, many of whom cross to the big Kyrgyrz bazaars every week to purchase Chinese goods to bring back and sell throughout the Valley. Usually a bribe is paid both ways. Since the Kyrgyrz revolution the price has been higher. Pretty much every new article of clothing worn by people in the valley (if not sewn) comes through Korasu. The guards there make a mint.

It could be traders trying to get through and back for Bazaar day tommorow, maybe the border is closed or the prices were raised? Traders are often pretty practical people though and violence isn’t very good business.

Meder May 14, 2005 at 10:26 am

yea Lyndon, Il’ichevsk is just another (old) name of Karasu. Eric’s right about thetraders that usually pass the borders but today, i don’t think that those are traders. That could be people who were standing in the Andijan Square yesterday or relatives of those ones. It’s clearly seen that there are injured people there. Uzbek people has opened fire on them when they were escaping.

Meder May 14, 2005 at 10:28 am

i meant uzbek troopers not people there

Matt W May 14, 2005 at 10:51 am

Eric– As for the refugees, it’s not terribly hard to relocate from an Uzbek Valley city to a Kyrgyz one. Financing a move to Kyrgyzstan isn’t terribly more expensive than any other move, and the bureaucratic costs certainly aren’t prohibitive. So I wouldn’t tend to think that the refugees are opportunists trying to relocate to Kyrgyzstan.

One possible example is just a general fear of chaos and violence– almost everyone living there now remembers the events of the early 1990s– Kyrgyz-Uzbek riots in Osh, yes, but in Andijon Armenians and Jews were slaughtered. No widespread killing of ethnic Russians, but they did have their doors marked, which was unnerving enough for most. It would be interesting to know the ethnic makeup of those fleeing– if they are non-Uzbek or mixed, this would be a likely cause.

Another interesting question would be to what extent the ethnic Uzbek elite in Osh, which is in ascendancy there, has connections to the Valley elite in Uzbekistan. Does anyone have any information/rumors? That is also something that could potentially make Kyrgyzstan more attractive for some in Andijon (though I imagine elites would tend to flee more incognito and in style– in Lacettis with AC, not massing around borders).

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