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Special Report
Last Updated: 04/14/2005
Re-defining the IMU
Sharon Komash

The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan is considered by governments around the world – most notably the United States – to be a terrorist organization associated with al-Qaeda. But a close look at the group and its declared goals paints, instead, a picture of political struggle against a truly oppressive regime.


ARTICLE AVAILABLE IN PDF Click Here

 

Scholarly literature about political Islam in Central Asia locates the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (henceforth, the IMU) on the radical end of the spectrum, alongside international terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda. This paper will provide a critical look at this supposition. It will begin by reviewing the past activities attributed to the IMU and background information about the movement. The political context within which the IMU emerged will follow. Then the paper will discuss the common attitudes and perceptions towards the group and the interests underlying them, compared to the actual ideology and activity of the group. The paper will conclude with thoughts about the situation those attitudes cause: a dead-end situation or a hope for a change.

 

It is important to point out that there is not much primary information available about the IMU. Its activity is clandestine, so any information is uncertain. The written material regarding the IMU is interwoven with words such as supposedly, allegedly, suspected, reportedly. The following account can demonstrate this point: "It has been persistently rumored that Namangani, declared dead and buried last year, appeared in the Afghan province of Badakhshan"[i]. If the dead leader can resurrect, it is hard to tell which part of the information is reliable. The vagueness surrounding the IMU only made it more interesting for me to write about the reactions they induced.

 
ARTICLE AVAILABLE IN PDF Click Here

[i] Shermatova Sanobar, Russia's Motives in Kyrgyzstan Russia's intent in building an air base in Kyrgyzstan is clearly to counterbalance U.S. forces stationed in that region, Russia Weekly #237, December 25-31, 2002, http://www.cdi.org/russia/237-13-pr.cfm

Sharon Komash is a graduate student at the University of Peace, studying International Peace Studies. She is from Israel.


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