SPECIAL REPORT - UZBEKISTAN: Are Alleged Islamic Movement Lectures Authentic?

Igor Rotar, Keston News Service, 8 July 2002

One of Uzbekistan's leading scholars of Islam has presented what he says is a translation from Uzbek of lectures presented in 2001 to fighters of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) in their military training camps. Bakhtiyor Babajanov, who heads the department for Islamic studies at the Oriental Institute of Uzbekistan's Academy of Sciences, made his presentation at a conference on Islam and national security in Central Asia, organised in the Kazakh commercial capital Almaty on 24-25 June by the mission in Kazakhstan of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the Kazakh Institute for Strategic Studies. Babajanov insisted to Keston News Service that he was initially sceptical about the authenticity of the claimed texts, but became convinced they are genuine.

The IMU aims to overthrow Uzbekistan's current leadership by military means and to create an Islamic state. Before the start of military operations by the USA and its allies, some IMU military camps were based on Taliban-controlled Afghan territory, while some (up to autumn 2000) were in the Karategin valley of Tajikistan, the mountainous border with the Pamir district of the republic (see KNS 18 December 2001). In August 1999 and August 2000 IMU fighters attempted to penetrate Uzbekistan from Tajikistan and to create an Islamic state there. In 2000 the US State Department named the IMU as an international terrorist organisation.

Babajanov recounted what he said were the contents of the IMU fighters' lectures. "We need to establish a political and military regime such that it will never change and will never reach an agreement with infidels who have rejected their political system and culture; we should turn them out of their jobs and establish a purely Islamic regime. Will there be a bank? There will be, but only under a regime established under Islam. There is no such thing as a nation of 'infidels'. Allah made all his creatures so that they should pay homage to him. We will call on them (the infidels) to accept Islam. If they refuse, we should kill them, make them slaves, and value them as no more than cattle. Jews, Christians and polytheists will all become commodities. A person must have an understanding of the truth. You should not treat them with condescension, saying 'They are infidels, but they are also people'. No, for they have become unfaithful to Allah."

The IMU intends to achieve the creation of an Islamic state through acts of sabotage. The lectures, as cited by Babajanov, state: "If a flea bites a dog, then the dog will start to bite its entire body. And if we strike at a small unit of these infidels, how large a territory will they be obliged to cordon off? It is important to know the following: if we strike the Khamzin district [of Tashkent] what will they do? Will the army cordon off the whole city or just the Khamzin district? Your subversive actions in the state will prompt anarchy and disorder, corruption, theft and murder will proliferate, order will break down among employees of the state administration and they will start to devour one another. The National Security Committee [NSC, former KGB], the Ministry of Internal Affairs [MIA] and so on. If disorder persists, the NSC will start constantly to examine the work of the MIA. So they will start to kill one another and even themselves. The state will introduce a curfew. It will start to harass the people. That will work in your favour. Anti-government forces will emerge. The state will collapse, however numerous its army. That means that its body will lose its immunity and its fatal end will be manifest. You will have to detect and recognise this time. It is like an animal catching cold."

The IMU lectures were provided with illustrative materials. For example, a three-headed snake is depicted on one of the pictures (under each head is a corresponding caption: the U.S., Russia and the Jews) overhanging a map of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. The caption under the picture reads: "Enemies of Central Asia's Muslims". On another picture an armed man is depicted wearing an arm-band on which is written: "Islamic Gestapo". The caption to the picture runs: "Special detachment in the war against the infidel".

The IMU's tactics are similar to those once employed by Tajikistan's Islamic Revival Movement. "We are partisans. We will inflict a blow and immediately retreat," the movement's then first deputy chairman, Akbar Turajonzoda, told Keston in Tehran in January 1997. "Our aim is not to control the whole of Tajikistan. Our goal is simply to demonstrate to the enemy that so long as he does not meet our conditions, he will not lead a tranquil life."

It is impossible to be certain that the documents Babajanov presented in Almaty are not forgeries made by the Uzbek special services. However, Babajanov has a reputation as a serious academic and is not noted for political opportunism. "To be honest, initially I too suspected that it was a forgery. But I value my reputation and would never have presented the documents if I were not sure they were genuine," Babajanov told Keston on 25 June in Almaty. "My conviction is based on the following. Firstly, I have received absolutely identical lectures from various sources that are independent of one another. Secondly, I showed these lectures to Muhammad Sadyk Muhammad Yusuf and he admitted that the IMU leadership came to him asking him, as a spiritual leader, to approve identical lectures." Yusuf, the former mufti of Uzbekistan, was dismissed by President Islam Karimov. Until recently, fearing persecution from the Uzbek government, he lived in Libya. (END)