Terror Trails

by Nathan Hamm on 6/14/2005

The AP reports on how IMU members get from Afghanistan and Pakistan to Uzbekistan.

First there is the Iran route:

Satimov got nearly $2,000 from Yuldash to return to Uzbekistan, receiving the money under the pretext of wanting to bring his family to Afghanistan.

“I lied to him so that he would help me,” Satimov said. “It was not a problem to cross.”

Yuldash arranged for Satimov to cross into southwestern Iran where he was met by men he identified as Iranian drug dealers. They escorted him to Tehran, where his father was waiting. They traveled together to Mashhad in northeastern Iran and then to Uzbekistan on a commercial flight.

Testimony at trials in Uzbekistan and interviews with former IMU members identify Mashhad, Iran’s second-largest city, as the transit center for Uzbek militants.

And then there’s Tajikistan:

Tajikistan is the riskier option because of heavily armed drug runners, said Asqarov, 36. Yet crossing Afghanistan’s northern border was always easy whether during the Taliban rule or today in areas controlled by Uzbek warlord Rashid Dostum, now Afghanistan’s military chief, Asqarov said.

“It didn’t matter whether it was the Taliban or Dostum’s checkpoint. You could get across,” Asqarov said, adding it was only a question of paying.

Both of the men interviewed in the story returned to Uzbekistan to accept the Uzbek government’s rarely-talked-about amnesty program for IMU members.

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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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