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Tajik Official Says Uzbeks Invented Regional Terror Group

Tajik special forces pictured during counterterrorism exercises (file photo) (ITAR-TASS) October 17, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- A senior Tajik security official has accused authorities in neighboring Uzbekistan of inventing regional terrorist threats to internationalize their struggle with their own armed militancy.

The head of the Tajik Interior Ministry's department to combat organized crime, Mahmadsaid Juraqulov, told reporters in Dushanbe on October 16 that he thinks the purported Islamic Movement of Turkestan is a figment of the Uzbek secret services.

Juraqulov says the label is simply another name for the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), which has been blamed by Uzbek officials for bombings and other deadly attacks.

Juraqulov said the IMU, which seeks to topple the government of Uzbek President Islam Karimov, poses no major security threat to Tajikistan or Kyrgyzstan.

"[The Islamic Movement of Turkmenstan] is the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan," Juraqulov said. "Everyone knows that it is in Uzbekistan that [the IMU] wants to create problems. For them, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan are just regrouping bases they're trying to reach."

However, Juraqulov added that 23 suspected IMU members are currently wanted by authorities in Tajikistan.

He also said the IMU is believed to have been behind a September 28 attack on supporters of Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov that left two people wounded.

Uzbek officials have suggested that the IMU changed its name to the Islamic Movement of Turkestan in 2001 and that its leader, Tohir Toldashev, is hiding in Pakistan's western tribal regions.

They say the aim of Toldashev's armed militant group is to overthrow the secular governments of Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan and replace them with an Islamic state.

(RFE/RL's Tajik Service, with Avesta)

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