Al Qaeda in Southern Kyrgyzstan?

by Joshua Foust on 10/11/2011 · 3 comments

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan — Color me unimpressed:

Kyrgyzstan’s security services said on Tuesday its officers had foiled a plot by al Qaeda-linked Islamist radicals to disrupt this month’s presidential election and sow chaos in the country’s volatile south…

The Central Asian country’s State Committee on National Security (GKNB), successor to the Soviet-era KGB, said on Tuesday it had killed one religious radical and detained 11 other members of banned radical Islamist organizations.

“This group had been preparing a series of actions to disrupt the election,” GKNB head Keneshbek Dushebayev told a news conference.

He said the group consisted of members of the Islamic Jihad Group and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. The two organizations are close al Qaeda allies.

So this could have happened. But hyping al Qaeda in the South just because there are a bunch of Uzbeks there is also a long tradition in Kyrgyzstan (that news story, sponsored by CENTCOM, also includes an awesome dig at Maxim Bakiyev meeting with UTO and IMU guys in Badakhshan, Afghanistan, and agreeing to destabilize Kyrgyzstan – which is totally feasible, for reals).

Anyway, if things break my way here I’ll be heading to southern Kyrgyzstan soon and I’m hoping to say whether there really is an Al Qaeda plot there or not. I’m guessing not, but I can always be surprised.

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This post was written by...

– author of 1848 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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C-rizza October 12, 2011 at 3:58 am

Like, OMG! AQ in Kyjergizstan could, like, totally happen and stuff!

David October 12, 2011 at 11:35 am

Good piece. That article is dreadful. All these CENTCOM-funded websites are creating an image of insecurity entirely divorced from the reality of southern Kyrgyzstan. Enjoy the trip…

AS October 16, 2011 at 3:23 pm

I love how every Central Asian “expert” will immediately poo-poo any reports of terrorism in CA and attribute them to the overzealous security services or gullible Defense officials. Reminds me of how these same people used to scoff at the possibility of ethnic violence in the Ferghana before the Osh riots (sooo 1991!).

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