IS TASHKENT SHIFTING GEARS ON "WAHHABISM"?

Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 32

Uzbek Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Komilov yesterday charged that Islamic groups in Pakistan have set up indoctrination and guerrilla training centers for young Uzbeks, Tajiks and Kyrgyz. According to Komilov, these Pakistani groups trained and sent the militants who committed "terrorist acts" in Uzbekistan’s Namangan region last December. In describing these groups and their trainees, the Foreign Minister used the customary, generalizing terms "radical" and "extremist," but made only passing mention of "Wahhabism." Last December and afterward, the Uzbek government had insisted that the Wahhabi sect was behind the unrest in Namangan, and announced the arrest of "Wahhabi militants." Komilov’s semantic shift would seem to confirm recent indications that Uzbek and other Central Asian authorities may have been using the term "Wahhabism" to brandish a specter, rather than to describe an actual terrorist threat. (See Monitor, February 2)

Komilov listed seven alleged locations of training camps in Pakistan, named three alleged sponsoring groups and accused them of aiming to infiltrate agents and establish fundamentalist Islamic states in all of Central Asia. He said that Uzbekistan does not consider the Pakistani government to be involved, but that it has asked it in a diplomatic note to curb such activities. (Russian agencies, February 16) Neither Uzbekistan nor the other countries border on Pakistan, the alleged source of infiltration. The statement confirms Tashkent’s credentials for secular vigilance in Central Asia and can be seen as part of the Uzbek government’s policy to contain Pakistani influence in Afghanistan.

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The Monitor is a publication of the Jamestown Foundation. It is researched and written under the direction of senior analysts Jonas Bernstein, Vladimir Socor, Stephen Foye, and analysts Ilya Malyakin, Oleg Varfolomeyev and Ilias Bogatyrev. If you have any questions regarding the content of the Monitor, please contact the foundation. If you would like information on subscribing to the Monitor, or have any comments, suggestions or questions, please contact us by e-mail at [email protected], by fax at 301-562-8021, or by postal mail at The Jamestown Foundation, 4516 43rd Street NW, Washington DC 20016. Unauthorized reproduction or redistribution of the Monitor is strictly prohibited by law. Copyright (c) 1983-2002 The Jamestown Foundation Site Maintenance by Johnny Flash Productions