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Uzbekistan: Chief Prosecutor Links Violence To Al-Qaeda

  • Bruce Pannier -->

Prague, 9 April 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Uzbekistan's prosecutor-general said today he has evidence of a link between the Al-Qaeda network and the recent wave of violence in Uzbekistan.

Rashid Kadyrov told reporters in Tashkent that among 45 people charged in connection with last week's attacks, a number "were prepared and trained by Arab instructors who were in turn trained in Al-Qaeda camps."

"Some of the detained individuals have testified that they were trained in terrorist camps by Arab instructors who had previously trained Al-Qaeda militants," Kadyrov said.

The Uzbek government now believes a group called "Jamiat" (“Society”) was responsible for planning and carrying out the attacks.
Today's press conference was the most detailed briefing to date on last week's violence, which led to at least 47 deaths, including 33 alleged radicals and 10 policemen, in four days of attacks. Kadyrov's claims could not be independently confirmed.

Kadyrov said a total of 412 people have been brought in for questioning and investigators have seized a large number of weapons from some of those charged in the attacks.

He said the Uzbek government now believes a group called "Jamiat" (“Society”) was responsible for planning and carrying out the attacks. He said Jamiat has been active in the Tashkent and Bukhara areas since 2000.

Kadyrov said the group models its organization on Hizb ut-Tahrir in that it divides into small cells. He also said the group was inspired by the Islamic Movement of Turkestan, allegedly an evolution of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, which staged armed incursions into Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan in 1999 and 2000.

"The investigators have information that Jamiat's religious beliefs and their determination to commit suicide while carrying out a terrorist act are based on the ideas of [the banned religious group] Hizb ut-Tahrir, reinforced by elements of radicalism pursued by the terrorist organization, the Islamic Movement of Turkestan," Kadyrov said.

Hizb ut-Tahrir, however, has not been linked to violence.

Kadyrov said the identities of 30 of the attackers who died in last week's clashes are now known to Uzbek authorities, though he did not provide any of the names. Kadyrov described the gender and ages of those apprehended or suspected of taking part in the attacks, saying Jamiat had selected them from a segment of society easily influenced by skilled recruiters.

"Out of 84 members of the criminal group identified at this stage of the investigation, 64 are men and 22 are women. Most of these terrorists, 60 individuals, are from 18 to 30 years old, which is evidence of the terrorist organizations' desire to infect the impressionable minds of our youth with extremist religious ideas," Kadyrov said.

The violence was the worst in the country since a series of bombings in Tashkent in 1999 that killed around 16 people.

(Oktambek Karimov of the Uzbek Service contributed to this report.)