Islam, Islamism and Politics in Eurasia Report 24

Photo russian_mosque

September 22, 2010

CONTENTS:

  • CE AMIR UMAROV ISSUES ANOTHER VIDEO STATEMENT ON THE CE SPLIT
  • RIYADUS SALIKHIN MARTYRTS’ BRIGADE PROMISES ATTACKS ACROSS RUSSIA
  • GORDON M. HAHN, “PRISONERS OF AN APPROACH TO THE CAUCASUS (Response to Charles King and Rajan Menon, “Prisoners of the Caucasus: Russia’s Invisible Civil War,” Foreign Affairs, Fall 2010).

CENTRAL ASIA

  • ERKINBEK KAMALOV, “The Islamist Tracks in Kyrgyzstan’s Interethnic Violence”

ANNOUNCEMENTS

  • NEW NON-PROLIFERATION/TERRORISM STUDIES MASTER OF ARTS DEGREE AND TERRORISM STUDIES CERTIFICATE PROGRAMS

* IIPER is written and edited by Dr. Gordon M. Hahn unless otherwise noted.  Research assistance is provided by Leonid Naboishchikov, Daniel Painter, and Daria Ushakova.

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MORE ON THE CE SCHISM

On September 9th the website of the Ingushetia mujahedin, the CE’s G’alg’aiche Vilaiyat, was the first to carry a video made during that month near the end of Ramadan by CE amir ‘Abu Usman’ Dokku Umarov.[1]  Later the same day the video appeared on the CE’s main site Kavkaz tsentr.[2]  In the video statement Umarov says the tape was made in September and apologizes to the Caucasus’s Muslims for his “long silence.”  He had not made a statement since the CE’s split with its leading amirs of its Nokchicho (Chechnya) Vilaiyat (NV) in early August, and this was the reason for this new statement.

Umarov is seen in the video seated next to his naib Supyan Abdulaev and two other unidentified mujahedin.  Since usually only amirs are included sitting next to the top amir in such videotapes, it is likely that these were two amirs from the Chechen vilaiyat, meaning that perhaps at least some Chechen amirs remain loyal to Umarov rather than to the top NV amirs who broke with Umarov in August: former CE naib Aslanbek Vadalov, former CE Nokchicho Vilaiyat amir Hussein Gakaev, former CE deputy military amir Abu Anas Muhannad, and former CE Nokchicho Southwestern Sector amir ‘Mansur’ Tarkhan Gaziev.

Umarov notes he wants to address the “ongoing situation” in the Caucasus, by which he means the CE split.  He notes that the “majlis” or shura (council) meeting held by the four Nokchicho amirs when they renounced their loyalty oath (bayat) to Umarov and essentially broke from the CE (though not jihad) was illegitimate since it included only two of the permanent official members of the Majlisul Shura.  Umarov established the ex officio membership of the Majlisul Shura in a 2009 decree (omar):  the NV amir (Gakaev) and the CE Nokchicho Southwestern Sector amir (Gaziev).

Umarov then cites several criticisms made by the dissenting NV amirs addressed to the CE amir.  First, according to Umarov, the Nokchicho amirs criticized Umarov’s ordering of, and claiming of responsibility for attacks deep inside Russia, including the Moscow subway suicide bombings on March 29, 2010.  The criticism seems not to have been of the use of suicide bombers, it seems, but attacks on civilians.  This interpretation is confirmed by the fact that Gakaev and his brother Muslim prepared at least some 20 suicide bombers in spring 2009.  Indeed, as recently as July 29th (days before the split) Kavkaz tsentr published the testament (published July 29th) of would-be suicide bomber Abdul Malik, who Chechen security forces intercepted and killed as he prepared to detonate himself on May 8th.  This publiscation indicates that Malik was subordinated to Vadalov and/or one or both of the Gakaevs.  The introduction to the testament asserts he was a mujahed of the Shali mountain sector, commanded by amir Muslim (likely Muslim Gakaev) in the NV’s Eastern Sector, then commanded by Vadalov, and in the testament itself Malik bids farewell to amir Gakaev.[3]  Umarov’s response to this critique is his statement that such attacks on the Russian heartland were correct and that he will continue to order them.  There have been three suicide bombing attacks since the split, perhaps two since this last Umarov statement; one of them was in Vladikavkaz in predominantly Christian North Ossetia.  Umarov will keep his word on this.

Another criticism of Umarov made by the NV amirs, as cited by Umarov, is his failure to provide sufficient provisions for the mujahedin, including unifmrms, equipment, and ammunition, and ensure conditions so that wounded mujahedin could receive proper medical assistance and, if necessary, be secreted away for treatment.  Umarov accepted this criticism, but seemed to excuse himself by claiming he simply lacked the wherewithal to do all this.  He also promised to try and correct the problems.

Umarov claims it was the NV four’s accusations that led him to tender his resignation as CE amir, but that the negative reaction to his resignation caused him to retract it.  Specifically, Umarov said a Shura was convened – he did not say when – to address whether he should resign, and it was agreed with Vadalov et al to make Umarov’s resignation video, suspend the Shura, and postpone a final decision while the amirs returned to their commands and inquired among other amirs regarding their opinion.  The opinion of not only the amirs and qadis of the vilaiyats, the military amir [the CE military amir is unknown since the capture in June of ‘Magas’ Akhmad Yevloev (aka Ali Taziev), the CE’s then military amir and G’alg’aiche (Ingushetia) Vilaiyat (GV) amir].  According to Umarov, the NV four then proceeded to violate this agreement by publishing his resignation video without returning to the Shura and reporting on the other amirs’ opinion.   Thus, Umarov says that he cannot resign because of these developments and because of the opposition to his resignation expressed by amirs of the GV, the Dagestan Vilaiyat (DV), and the United Vilaiyat of Kabardia, Balkaria and Karachai (OVKBK) and the military amir.  He closes with an explicit statement that he is remaining amir of the CE.

Thus, if all the details in Umarov’s statement are to be believed, it debunks some of the hypotheses and leaves uncontested and unanswered or supports others that I and other observers have put forward.  The statement says nothing about any Russian intelligence operation behind the resignation video’s premature posting and the split.  There is nothing in the statement to suggest that nationalism per se – whether we are about Chechen ethno-nationalism’s survival as a serious contending ideology within the CE or whether, as I put forward in previous IIPERs, that the split could be the direct result of tensions between ethno-national groupings with the CE (Chechens versus Dagestanis for leadership of the movement) – was the driving force behind the split.  However, the criticisms regarding problems with supplies and medical assistance for the wounded made by the Chechen dissenters suggest that my view that the interethnic competition over distribution of resources within the CE may be an issue.  Thus, the DV, GV and OVKBK amirs may be satisfied with Umarov’s leadership because they are being privileged in resource distribution, while the Chechens are disenchanted with him because they are or perceive that they are being shortchanged in that distribution.  The fact that the Chechnya has seen a persistent decline in jihadi operations for a year or more and now ranks last among the four vilaiyats in terms of number of attacks carried out suggests that the NV could be getting the short end of the stick when it comes to resources.  On the other hand, CE operatives constantly claim that they receive no resources from abroad and receive funds and other supplies for the jihad from the population through the Muslim poll tax or zakat and supportive and/or corrupt bureaucrats.  Therefore, it remains unclear what if any resources Umarov or his minions in the CE’s central apparatus would be delving out.

It seems unlikely, but for Umarov’s statement, that the NV’s Chechen amirs would be opposed to either suicide bombings or, as Umarov’s statement suggests, attacks on Russian civilians deep inside Russia.  Could this be a way for Umarov to discredit the NV dissenters in the eyes of the rest of the mujahedin?

Hopefully, more information will emerge to help us clarify the picture regarding the causes of the CE split.

It remains unclear whether the CE can find any way to patch up the split and reunify the jihadi movement in the Caucasus.  However, there are small signs that the CE leadership is reluctant to give up on the Nokchicho Vilaiyat mujahedin’s return to the fold.  Thus, a list the CE published of its attacks for the month of August, “A short Compilation of the Jihad on Caucasus Emirate’s territory for August 2010”, included those attacks carried out in Chechnya or the Nokchicho Vilaiyat.[4]  This implies that those attacks were part of the general jihad if not joint CE activity between the now structurally separate Nokchicho Vilaiyat mujahedin, led by Vadalov, Gakaev, Muhannad, and Gaziev, on the one hand, and the CE mujahedin led by Umarov, on the other.

Several leading Middle Eastern global jihad’s theological and ideological leaders have weighed in and backed Umarov as the legitimate leader of jihad in the North Caucasus.  For example, the global jihad’s leading ideologist, Jordanian sheikh Abu Mukhammad Al-Maqdisi, issued a fatwa on his site (http://tawhed.ws/FAQ/display_question?qid=3374&pageqa=1&i=&PHPSESSID=fd78f2f4e7dcafe456d3ebf2cfe80bc0) in which he praised Umarov and called upon all mujahedin in the North Caucasus to subordinate themselves to the CE amir.  Mentioning Aslanbek (Vadalov), Hussein (Gakaev) and Muhannad by name, he asserted that they had broken with Umarov and the CE without any foundation based in Shariah law and warned them that “it is obligatory to submit to amirs and not to argue with them, and it is necessary to help and show patience towards them and advise (exhort) [nastavlyat’] them in secret.”  He cited numerous hadiths to support his position.  Al-Maqdisi also praised Umarov for consulting with scholars so his actions correspond to Shariah, claiming “all Shariah judges praise him for turning to scholars and inquiring as to their advice and opinions” and said that “all of our brothers who know the situation in the Caucasus well have passed on to us that there have not been any violations (of Shariah law) by amir Abu Usman.”  Finally, he called on all in the Caucasus mujahedin and Muslims to support the Caucasus Emirate “so the Emirate becomes the door to Eastern Europe.”[5]

Also weighing in to back Umarov was the Syrian jihadi Sheikh Abu Basyr At-Tartusi, who is considered slightly more moderate than Al-Maqdisi.  At-Tartusi’s fatwa was subsequently followed by publication of a single question, referring to publication of the fatwa, and At-Tartusi’s answer.  The ‘interview’ question mentioned a telephone call in which mujahedin (presumably from the CE) requested the fatwa and that it had been published on numerous “Islamic” sites and that Umarov had read it.  The author of the question was was well-informed on the CE jihad, referring to the martyrdom of the CE’s late qadi and amir of the Dagestan Vilaiyat Seifullah Gibdenskii (Magomedali Vagabov).[6]  The entire fatwa was published on CE sites two weeks after the question and answer.[7]  At-Tartusi took the same position as Al-Maqdisi, backing Umarov and calling upon the Nokchicho dissidents and all mujahedin to back the CE amir.

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RIYADUS SALIKHIN MARTYRTS’ BRIGADE PROMISES ATTACKS ACROSS RUSSIA

The CE-affiliated Riyadus Salikhin Martyrs’ Brigade has claimed responsibility for an August explosion outside the Russian state natural gas and oil company GazProm’s headquarters in southeastern Moscow.  In its message posted on the CE site Kavkaz tsentr, the RSMB states that the attack was ordered by CE amir ‘Abu Usman’ Dokku Umarov as part of its “spring-summer operations.”  The RSMB warned that it “showed that we can carry out terrorist operations against well-guarded objects and it is in our power to strike blows practically at any place in Russia (Rusnya – perjorative word for Russia).  All central Russia from now on is declared our zone of counter-terrorist operations.”[8]

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PRISONERS OF AN APPROACH TO THE NORTH CAUCASUS (Response to Charles King and Rajan Menon, “Prisoners of the Caucasus: Russia’s Invisible Civil War,” Foreign Affairs, Fall 2010)

By Gordon M. Hahn

What appears below was submitted to Foreign Affairs as a response to Charles King’s and Rajan Menon’s “Prisoners of the Caucasus: Russia’s Invisible Civil War” (Foreign Affairs, Summer 2010):

In Charles King’s and Rajan Menon’s “Prisoners of the Caucasus: Russia’s Invisible Civil War” there is an enormous red herring that demands refutation.  The article also suffers from adhering to the same tired and unbalanced approach – albeit in a well-informed reincarnation – seen in most writing on the Caucasus jihad.  That approach idenitifies Russian policy and only Russian policy as the cause of the jihadi-related violence plaguing the North Caucasus.  The fact is that if Russia were to recognize the North Caucasus as fully independent tomorrow, the Caucasus Emirate mujahedin would continue waging a daily campaign of violence and murder in Russia and would stand a very good chance of seizing power in most of the titular Muslim republics of the North Caucasus.

Let’s start with the red herring.  The authors argue correctly for a multicausal approach in explaining the conflict.  I argued the same in explaining the rise of jihadism in the North Caucasus in Russia’s Islamic Threat (Yale University Press, 2007).  However, the authors make the untenable claim that the most frequently cited factor in the “single-factor fallacy” is the rise of radical Islam: “Explanations for the upheaval and violence in the North Caucasus tend to seize on a single root cause.  The rise of radical Islam is often cited first.”  A perusal of the U.S. mainstream print media’s coverage of the Caucaus jihad and a close reading of writings produced by academic and analytical circles will reveal to even the casual researcher the lack of veracity of this aspect of the fallacy.  The jihadists are rarely, if ever focused on and never to the exclusion of other factors.  The standard approach is to blame Russia entirely for the rise of Islamism in the region, as if the internet did not exist, Islam was not a conductor of radical Islamism, foreign mujahedin had never fought in the region, and Caucasus mujahedin have never been trained, financed, or otherwise supported by Al Qa`ida and other global jihadi elements.

The article inadvertently reveals its red herring by being in large part an exemplary representative of this jihadi-blind approach.  One does not run across once in the article any of the following words: jihad, jihadism, jihadis, jihadists, mujahedin, mujahed, Caucasus Emirate, amir, amirs, etc.  The words ‘Islamism’, ‘Islamist’, and ‘Islamists’ appear in total a handful of times and are used largely in passing and only in the discussion that claims the Islamist factor is the “single factor” most often cited in explaining the conflict.  Neither the Caucasus Emirate (CE), the jihadists’ umbrella organization, nor its amir ‘Abu Usman’ Dokku Umarov (who is now on the U.S. State Department’s list of international terrorists), nor the CE jihadists’ Islamist theology, ideology, goals, strategy and tactics are ever mentioned by the authors.  The CE jihadists’ ties and similarity to, and support for other jihadist groups fighting on other fronts in the global jihadi revolutionary movement are never mentioned.  The term ‘civil war’ used in the article’s title, rather than ‘jihad’ or ‘Islamic insurgency’, says it all.

This, in fact, is the typical approach extant in the U.S. today towards this issue.  The abovementioned were totally absent from the mainstream media, academia, and Russian studies communities for almost the entire first two years of the CE’s existence, despite the thousands of killed and injured it produced during that period.  Scanty mention is now the norm.  Only some among terrorism scholars have taken the phenomenon of Caucasus jihadism seriously.  One piece of evidence that the Caucasus jihadists have been largely ignored rather than played up is Foreign Affairs own index of articles published.

For all the the authors’ ostensible aversion to monocausal explanations when it comes to the jihadi factor, a ‘songle factor’ becomes all the rage when they offer their own explanations of things like the first post-Soviet Russo-Chechen war: “The first Chechen war was not about the Chechens suddenly deciding to rise up and slaughter their Russian neighbors because of ancient grievances.  Instead, violence erupted in 1994 because then Russian President Boris Yeltsin, however justifiably, moved to prevent Chechen secession with military force.  The results were ghastly.  Indiscriminate Russian bombing exacted a heavy human toll, and ill-prepared Russian conscripts were mowed down as they tried to take Grozny, the Chechen capital.”

Despite the authors’ insertion of the phrase ‘however justifiable’ in reference to Yeltsin’s decision to use force to quell Chechen nationalist separatism, they do not reference the facts that would render such a decision justifiable.  Before the first war even began Chechen leader Jokar Dudaev and his radically nationalistic and atavist supporters seized power illegally, seceded illegally, began ethnic cleansing of Russians in Grozny and other parts of Chechnya, threatened Russia with attacks on nuclear power stations and the raising of “one million mujahedin,” built an illegal Chechnya armed force, committed atrocities against Russian soldiers and civilians, and began to use radical Islam as a pillar of his power.  Also, before the outset of the first war, leading field commander and hero of the Chechen people, Shamil Basaev, along with 30-40 of his ‘Abkhaz battalion’ fighters, visited Al Qa`ida training camps in Khost, Afghanistan.  In lieu of all this ghastliness, there is the standard, focused reference to the “ghastly” Russians’ indiscriminate bombing.  To be sure, reference to the Russians’ illegal conduct of the war is requisite, but reference to it alone provides a very incomplete picture.

Moreover, the authors also contradict their own arguments against the importance of Chechen/Caucasus atavism and nationalist revenge.  The ethnic Avar, imam Shamil, to whom the authors spend significant space and describe as a fighter for his version of pure Islam and pan-Caucasus independence, happens to be an idol of most Caucasians, especially Avars and Chechens.  Their description of Jokhar Dudaev also suggests the motive of revenge against the Russians that the authors downplay: “Although the Jokhar Dudaev, who led the rebels in the first Chechen war, in the mid-1990s, was born just as his parents and neighbors were being crammed into cattle cars for their exile to Kazakhstan.  His political motivations were largely shaped by this experience of deportation and return, as were those of other leaders from the Caucasus in his generation.  When the Soviet Union collapsed, Dudaev emerged as the head of a group calling for Chechnya’s independence from Russia.  The result was similar to the political movements that had taken hold in the Baltic states and Ukraine prior to their independence: a secessionist cause infused with the narrative of historical oppression.”

The last claim contained in the above quote also displays an inappropriate willingness to write-off another important cause of the conflict: the native North Caucasus culture of martial violence and blood revenge, particularly well-pronounced among the Chechens.  The national independence movements in the Baltics and Ukraine never armed themselves or threatened violence.  One finds it hard to imaging the Chechens taking the civil disobedience approach.  A better but not perfect model for comparison would be the violent, late Soviet Georgian, Armenian, and Azeri nationalist movements in the geographically and culturally proximate south Caucasus which for some reason go unmentioned by the authors.

A rather one-sided approach seems to drive the authors’ unsubstantiated claim that Russia’s North Caucasus policy is focused “on insulating the rest of Russia from the ills of the North Caucasus.”  This claim suggests that Moscow is doing nothing to solve problems in the region and is letting the Caucasus Emirate mujahedin run around freely.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  The North Caucasus’s regional administrations carry out aggressive counter-insurgency operations in the region, often overly aggressive ones especially in Chechnya.  They also employ serious reconciliation efforts, especially in Ingushetia.  Moscow in recent years has been making huge investments in reconstruction in Chechnya and the development of the entire North Caucasus economy, especially that in Ingushetia.  These policies are hardly a reflection of a policy centered on insulating the rest of Russia to let the North Caucasus burn.

While there certainly have been more one-sided renderings of the North Caucasus conflict in U.S. journalistic or academic print , “Prisoners of the Caucasus” sticks to the pattern set by previous, less informed renderings.  It is incomplete, one-sided, and politically correct in its refusal to examine the Caucasus Emirate’s jihadism, the main driver of today’s violence in the region.  One still waits for a truly balanced analysis of the Caucasus jihad from a major U.S. elite or mass media print outlet.

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CENTRAL ASIA

The Islamist Tracks in the Interethnic Conflict in Kyrgyzstan

by Erkinbek Kamalov

This year’s June 10-13 events will remain in the minds of Kyrgyz citizens for years, even decades to come.  The June days’ bloody conflict featured the harshest violence between ethnic groups – in this case between the ethnic Kyrgyz majority and the ethnic Uzbek minority that has occurred in the southern part of Kyrgyzstan since the collapse of Soviet Union.  Each party to the conflict is blaming on the other the thousands of victims and thousands more refugees and missing that resulted from those interethnic clashes.

Thus, officials of the local branch of the Kyrgyzstan security services in Jalalabad explained the outbreak of the June conflict in terms of the intensification of Uzbek separatism after the April regime change with the overthrow of the regime of Kurmanbek Bakiev.  These local officials point to the speeches of the ethnic Uzbek businessman, deputy head of the officially registered Uzbek Cultural Center, and former parliamentarian Kadyrjan Batyrov.  On the eve of the June events Batyrov, speaking on local Uzbek TV channel ‘Mezon TV’, called for an autonomous government in Uzbek-dominated territories in southern Kyrgyzstan.  This reportedly sparked an angry reaction among Kyrgyz youth leading to the bloodshed of June.

But one perhaps more central participant in these tragic events has received little attention in most analyses: the region’s Islamists.  Islamist groups around the world often use, ally with, or evolve from ethno-national separatist movements as, for example, the Southern Malays in Thailand, the Palestinians in Lebanon, the Moro in the Philippines, the Chechens and other Caucasus peoples in Russia, and the Uighurs in China.

Evidence of the Role of the Jihadist ‘Third Party’

Most observers here are reluctant to deny or assert the hand of so-called “third party” in this conflict, and few have tried to understand and analyze the jihadist trace in this inter- ethnic conflict, especially during its early stages.  Keneshbek Dushebaev, Head of Kyrgyzstan’s State Committee for National Security, has offered such an explanation.  He stated that the June conflict was organized by the Union of Islamic Jihad (UIJ), active in Central Asia, Afghanistan and the Middle East but financially supported by Kyrgyzstan ex-president Kurmanbek Bakiev’s clan.  As proof he offered the following:

“As a result of April 7, 2010 events ex- President Bakiev and his clan lost their great sources of illegal profit and influence in the country.  But his son Maxim Bakiev was determined to bring back all this lost influence and power.  Accordingly, by the end of April he contacted with some leaders of the IMU (Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan) in the United Arab Emirates.  Later on, at the beginning of May in the town of Bakhorak in Badakshan, Afghanistan two members of Bakiev’s clan met with representatives of the Taliban, the IMU and the United Tajik Opposition along with Mullah Abdullo, ethnic Tajik Islamist field commander linked to Taliban Movement.  At that meeting, the participants reached agreement on destabilizing the situation in Kyrgyzstan.  To support the operation, the Bakiev clan promised funding in the amount of 30 million US dollar.  After this meeting, in May the UIJ formed and illegally transferred a group of 15 experienced Islamic fighters of Uzbek nationality to Kyrgyzstan from Pakistan through Tajikistan territory.  That group consisted of experts in IED explosions and snipers.  Falsified ID cards for that group of Islamic fighters were prepared by a local citizen in a southern province of Kyrgyzstan.  All the above occurred before the interethnic clash in June.”[9]

Moreover, there is some evidence from Osh that things were not as they should be and that jihadis may have played the vanguard role in sparking the violence.  According to eyewitnesses, including the local reporter of RFE/RL and as Kyrgyz law enforcement bodies interviewed on television, at midnight on 10 June 2010 the call to prayer or azan that issued forth from two mosques located in Osh city, Kyrgyzstan’s southern capital, were pronounced at an improper and unusual time, and ordinary people were surprised that these mosques were issuing azans. Immediately after these azans sounded, people appeared shouting “Allah Akbar” and sounds of gunfire could be heard.[10] This gunfire killed people both ethnic Kyrgyz and ethnic Uzbeks and thereby was intended to spark mass violence.  It turns out that all of the imams of the two Osh two mosques where the azans were pronounced improperly had been dismissed recently by the newly appointed head of the Kyrgyzstan’s official Muslim Spiritual Board or the chief mufti of Kyrgyzstan, Chubak Hajii.[11]

In addition, shortly after the Kyrgyz-Uzbek clashes, Tajikistan security services arrested two members of “Union of Islamic Jihad” near border with Kyrgyzstan, who were then transferred to their Kyrgyzstan counterparts.  All of the detained were Kyrgyz citizens who trained in terrorist camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan.[12]

Thus, it appears there may have been a significant role played by foreign and domestic jihadi groups in June’s violence.  Although the strategic aims of jihadists and criminal clans certainly can be differ, this case may illustrate that they are still cooperating with each other in the region by employing common tactics and strategies.

The Reasons Behind the Intensification of Jihadist Activity in the Region

Intensification of Islamist groups in the territory of Kyrgyzstan can be explained by several internal and external factors.

(1) Taliban groups failed and lost many members in the war with the Coalition Forces in Afghanistan and so moved to the country’s northern provinces of the country and Tajikistan, which they have used as a springboard for returning to the Ferghana Valley area and carrying out military operations from there deep into post-Soviet Central Asia.  During in his recent visit to Kyrgyzstan, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, Robert O. Blake Jr., warned the Kyrgyz government that the main threat may come from Afghanistan, and therefore Kyrgyzstan needs the most robust security cooperation possible.

(2) Regime change and continuing political, social and economic dysfunction is prolonging, even exacerbating instability in Central Asia, especially in Kyrgyzstan. Changing power by way of mass demonstrations against the Bakiev regime and family clan could facilitate greater jihadist recruitment and an escalation in terrorist activity civil in Kyrgyzstan and across the region.

(3) Kyrgyzstan’s official Muslim Spiritual Board of Kyrgyzstan (MSBK) is an ineffective institution.  There have been several cases of corruption involving the Muftiate over the last few years, including with mismanaged trips to Saudi Arabia for the Hajj pilgrimage.  In addition, frequent internal disputes followed leadership changes within MSBK have further damaged its overall reputation among common Muslims in Kyrgyzstan.

(4) Ferghana Valley as the Central Asian Balkans.  The Ferghana Valley, located on the across the borders between Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, is the center of radical Islam in Central Asia and a key transit route for drug traffickers and jihadists.  Al Qa`ida, the IDU, UIJ, the Caucasus Emirate, and even the Islamist Hisb ut-Tahrir Islami and other Islamist groups see  Central Asia as a key building block in the creation of a global Islamist Caliphate.  This future Central Asian Islamic state will cover four areas in Ferghan; each located in different countries, the so-called FANO – Fergana, Andijan , Namangan and Osh.

(5) The U.S. led International Transit Center at Manas Airport in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan can be a focal point for anti-Western sentiment that accompanies and to some extent helps drive jihadism.

The threat of an expanding jihadism in Central Asia requires a coordinated international counter-terrorism response.

Partnership Against Jihadism

Until recently many in Kyrgyzstan thought naively and mistakenly that jihadists do not try to instigate conflict between Muslim communities or co-operate with corrupt politicians and regimes.  But we must certainly know now that they are not above conspiring to provoke intra-Islamic violence and that they are not so unlike and are perfectly comfortable with, and suitable for co-operation with not only corrupt but also criminal elements to achieve their aims.  Since Islamists will use any opportunity, including criminal activity and ethnic separatism, Kyrgyzstan’s government, national security services, law enforcement bodies and civilians must be equipped to combat three problems simultaneously – organized crime and drug trafficking, extremist ethno-nationalism, and Islamism and jihadism – through deeper cooperation with their counterparts from other countries, IGOs and NGOs across the globe facing or working similar problems.

Kyrgyzstan needs and will benefit greatly from international collaborating with the above-mentioned countries and others in its fight against jihadi terrorism.  Partnerships in these areas should occur both on the strategic and tactical levels and in a timely, indeed urgent, and effective manner.  This should exceed the high level of cooperation extant between various jihadist groups across the region and the globe.  Just as they train together in terrorist camps across the Middle East and Asia, share a common interest and goals, and are united in their battle against not only Western countries, but the entire civilized world, so should the entire civilized world joint together in battling the jihad.

More cooperation is vital in such areas as the exchange of intelligence among security services, counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency joint training and cooperation, and academic exchanges and joint research between Kyrgyzstan and other states plagued by jihadism and related threats.  Specifically, the Kyrgyz Government should intensify its cooperation with the international community, especially organizations like UN, OSCE and USAID institutions in the field of security.

Bishkek must monitor the travels of young people and students who go to work and study in Middle Eastern and South Asian states, especially in countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Iran and Saudi Arabia.  It also must thoroughly vet and monitor the activities of Islamic humanitarian and educational agencies and NGOS working in Kyrgyzstan.  All such monitoring should be carried out in accordance with Kyrgyzstan law and Bishkek’s international commitments to respect human rights.  Preventive operations by security services and law- enforcement bodies must not turn into witch hunts, the exclusion of opposition groups from power, or the marginalization of civil society from politics.

At the same time, society must come to realize that Islamists and jihadists, like organized crime and ultrta-nationalism, are not only the enemy of secular government and the security services, but also of Kyrgyzstan’s entire society, its mainstream Islam, it culture, and its developing democracy.  Kyrgyzstan needs a united and strong society to counter successfully the multifarious threats it and the rest of Central Asia now face and that we can no longer deny.

Erkinbek Kamalov is a PhD student in the Peacebuilding Program at the Institute of Religion, Culture, and Peace at Payap University, Thailand.  He holds a Master of Arts degree in political science from the OSCE Academy and has worked for the OSCE and NGOs in Kyrgyzstan on issues related to security, inter-ethnic conflicts, inter- and intra-confessional relations, and border disputes between Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan at the track II and III levels.

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Footnotes

[1] “Zayavlenie Amira Imarata Kavkaz Dokku Abu Usman, Ramadan 1431 god (2010 g.),” Hunafa.com, 9 September 2010, 3:03, http://hunafa.com/?p=4009.

[2] “Obrashchenie Amira IK Dokku Abu Usman i amira Supyana k modzhakhedam Idel’-Urala,” Kavkaz tsentr, accessed September 9, 2010.

[3] “Zaveshchanie Abdul-Malika: ‘Ya ukhozhu na Istishkhad, chtoby pozhertvovat’ svoei dushoi vo imya Allakha!’,” Kavkaz tsentr, 29 July 2010, 12:04, http://www.kavkazcenter.com/russ/content/2010/07/29/74167.shtml.

[4] “Kratka svodka Dzhikhada na territorii Imarata Kavkaz za avgust 2010 goda,” Kavkaz tsentr, 2 September 2010, 15:02, http://www.kavkazcenter.com/russ/content/2010/09/02/74983.shtml.

[5] “Fatwa Sheikha Abu Mukhammada al’-Makdisi o fitne v Imarata Kavkaz,” Islam Umma, 9 September 2010, 10:44, http://islamumma.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1253:2010-09-10-07-35-03&catid=130&Itemid=485 and “Fatwa Sheikha Abu Mukhammada al’-Makdisi (da ykrepit ego Allakh),” Kavkaz tsentr, 10 September 2010, 20:55, http://www.kavkazcenter.com/russ/content/2010/09/10/75149.shtml.

[6] “Fatva Sheikha At-Tartusi ob Amire Imarata Kavkaz Dokku Abu Usman i o fitne vokrug nego,” Kavkaz tsentr, 5 September 2010, 12:10, http://www.kavkazcenter.com/russ/content/2010/09/05/75043.shtml.

[7] “Sheikh Abu Basyr At-Tartusi: Neskol’ko slov otnositel’no dzhikhada v Chechne i na Kavkaze,” Kavkaz tsentr, 20 September 2010, 07:46, http://www.kavkazcenter.com/russ/content/2010/09/20/75360.shtml; “Sheikh Abu Basyr At-Tartusi: Neskol’ko slov otnositel’no dzhikhada v Chechne i na Kavkaze,” Islamdin.com, 20 September 2010, 03:36, http://www.islamdin.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=918:2010-09-20-04-47-48&catid=8:2009-02-04-22-51-14&Itemid=26; and “Sheikh Abu Basyr At-Tartusi: Neskol’ko slov otnositel’no dzhikhada v Chechne i na Kavkaze,” Hunafa.com, 20 September 2010, 3:03, http://hunafa.com/?p=4155#more-4155.  The original in Arabic was published at http://www.abubaseer.bizland.com/hadath/Read/hadath%2073.doc.

[8] “Riyadus Salikhiin: Vzryv pered zdaniem Gasproma byl demonstratsii nashikh vozmozhnostei,” Kavkaz tsentr, 12 August 2010, 01:09, http://www.kavkazcenter.com/russ/content/2010/08/12/74504.shtml.

[9] Speech of Dushebaev published in the Russian-language newspaper Kyrgyzstan Vecherny Bishkek, 25 June 2010, p. 6.

[10] Interview in Kyrgyz language at  http://www.azattyk.org/content/Kyrgyzstan_Religion_Jalilov/2110082.html

[11] Ibid.

[12] Statement of Kyrgyz law enforcement body at http://www.24.kg/news-stall/78457-pravooxranitelnym-organam-batkenskoj-oblasti.html

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ANNOUNCEMENT: NEW NON-PROLIFERATION/TERRORISM STUDIES MASTER OF ARTS DEGREE AND TERRORISM STUDIES CERTIFICATE PROGRAMS

The Monterey Institute for International Studies has recently opted to combine its very popular and highly regarded M.A. International Policy Studies degree specializations in Terrorism Studies and Nonproliferation Studies into a combined new M.A. Program in Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies, a program that will now have an even higher profile and greater institutional autonomy. Apart from combining two of the Institute’s strongest academic programs, this will ensure that students take the introductory courses in both subjects but will also allow them to concentrate primarily on either terrorism or nonproliferation (or, if they prefer, to focus on both subjects equally, e.g., on CBRN terrorism). As you may already know, our students have an exceptionally high success rate getting jobs in these specialized fields.

The Institute is also introducing a new one-semester (or one-year) Certificate in Terrorism Studies for professionals or students who wish to obtain specialized academic training in this subject without spending an entire two years in residence. Prospective students can be admitted into this Certificate Program without meeting the somewhat stringent language requirements that regular students must meet.

If you know of any students or professionals who might find this new program of particular interest, or who wish to obtain outstanding preparation for careers in these fields, or who wish to obtain further specialized training before going on to obtain a doctorate, it would be very much appreciated if let them know about our new program.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

ABOUT IIPER

Islam, Islamism and politics in Eurasia report (IIPER) is a project of the Monterey Terrorism and Research and Education Program (MonTREP) at the Monterey Institute for International Studies (MIIS), Monterey, California.  It focuses on all politically-relevant issues involving or bearing on Islam and ethnic Muslim communities in Russia and Eurasia writ large.  All issues of IIPER can be found at http://www.miis.edu/academics/faculty/ghahn/report.

IIPER is compiled, edited and, unless indicated otherwise, written by Dr. Gordon M. Hahn.  Dr. Hahn is Senior Researcher at the Monterey Terrorism Research and Education Program and Visiting Assistant Professor, Graduate School of International Policy Studies, Monterey Institute of International Studies, Monterey, California.  He is also a Senior Researcher, Center for Terrorism and Intelligence Studies (CETIS), Akribis Group and Analyst/Consultant for Russia Other Points of View – Russia Media Watch, http://www.russiaotherpointsofview.com.  He teaches courses on both politics and terrorism in Russia and Eurasia at MIIS.  Dr. Hahn is the author of two well-received books, Russia’s Islamic Threat (Yale University Press, 2007) and Russia’s Revolution From Above (Transaction, 2002) as well as numerous articles on Russian, Eurasian and international politics.

IIPER welcomes submissions of 1,500-6,000 words on any aspect of Islamic politics in Eurasia and financial contributions to support the project.  For related inquiries or to request to be included on IIPER’s mailing list, please contact gordon.hahn@miis.edu or gordon-hahn@sbcglobal.net.

Research assistance for IIPER is provided by Leonid Naboishchikov, Daniel Painter, and Daria Ushakova.

For additional information, please contact:

Dr. Gordon Hahn

Senior Researcher and WMD Terrorism Database Manager

Monterey Terrorism Research and Education Program (MonTREP)

460 Pierce Street

Monterey, CA – 93940 USA

Tel: (831) 647-3535 Fax: (831) 647-6522

Email: gordon.hahn@miis.edu

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About Gordon M. Hahn