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Brother Of Late IMU Chief Says He's Out Of Prison After 23 Years


Zohid Yuldoshev

In a newly released video, a long-jailed brother of the late former leader of the banned Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) says he was released from prison in October after 23 years behind bars.

Zohid Yuldoshev's video statement, carried by several Uzbek media outlets on January 11, was the first public indication that he is out of prison.

The founding leader of the IMU, Tohir Yuldosh, whom the late Uzbek President Islam Karimov considered his personal nemesis, was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan in 2009.

He and his associate, Juma Namangani, created the IMU in early 1990s after fleeing to neighboring Afghanistan and said toppling Karimov and creating an Islamic caliphate in Central Asia were their main goals.

Between 2000-03, the United States, Britain, Australia, Canada, and Russia officially designated the IMU a terrorist organization.

Yuldosh's three brothers -- Zohid, Muhammad, and Mamadin -- were arrested in Uzbekistan in the 1990s and sentenced to long prison terms on various charges, including terrorism.

Their mother, Karomathon, was forced several times to publicly denounce her sons on television in their native city of Namangan.

In the video, Zohid Yuldoshev praised President Shavkat Mirziyoev, who came to power after the death of the long-ruling Karimov in 2016.

Yuldoshev said that Mirziyoev "is taking care of our people" and "opening the eyes of people like me, who have strayed."

Mirziyoev has taken some steps to open up Uzbekistan, which Karimov ruled with an iron fist, but the country and the media remain under tight control.

Dozens of activists and politicians widely seen as political prisoners have been released under Mirziyoev.

It was not immediately clear whether Yuldosh's other brothers were released.

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