Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan

The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan is a Salafi-jihadist militant organization operating in Central Asia.

AT A GLANCE

Overview

Brief Summary of the Organization's History

Organization

How does a group organize? Who leads it? How does it finance operations?

Strategy

How does a group fight? What are its aims and ideologies? What are some of its major attacks?

Major Attacks

What are the group's most famous attacks? What are some key attacks in the group's evolution?

Interactions

What is the group's relationship with the community? How does it interact with other groups?

Maps

What is the group's relationship with other militants over time?

Key Statistics

1998 First Recorded Activity
1999 First Attack
2018 Last Recorded Activity

Contact

mappingmilitants [at] lists [dot] stanford [dot] edu

How to Cite:

Mapping Militant Organizations. “Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.” Stanford University. Last modified August 2018. <https://internal.fsi.stanford.edu/content/mmp-islamic-movement-uzbekistan>

Overview

Brief History

    Overview
  • Overview
  • Narrative

Overview

Formed1998
DisbandedGroup is active.
First AttackFebruary 16, 1999: Militants launched 5 simultaneous car bombs in Tashkent, the Uzbek capital, one of which almost killed President Karimov. The Uzbek government blamed the IMU for the attack, but this allegation has not been independently verified (16+ killed, 100+ wounded).
Last AttackJuly 29, 2018: The Islamic State claimed responsibility for an attack on foreign cyclists in Tajikistan’s Danghara district. It is possible that the militants were affiliated with the IMU, which operates in the area (4 killed, 3 wounded).
UpdatedAugust 31, 2018

The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan is a Salafi-jihadist militant group seeking to overthrow the Uzbek government and install an Islamic, Sharia-driven government. The IMU clashed with US forces during the US’s military campaign in Afghanistan in 2001, after which it relocated to Pakistan. For most of its existence, the IMU was closely allied to Al Qaeda, the Afghan Taliban, and the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), and frequently conducted joint operations with the organizations. Its most notable attacks include the April 2012 attack on Pakistan’s Bannu Prison, which freed 384 prisoners, and the June 2014 attack on the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi, Pakistan, In August 2015, after a period of declining relations with the Afghan Taliban, the IMU pledged loyalty to the Islamic State (IS). Some sources suggest that the militants responsible for the Manhattan attack in October 2017 and the July 2018 attack on bikers in Tajikistan may have been affiliated with the IMU.

Narrative

The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) is an Islamist militant group operating in Central Asia. IMU co-founders Tahir Yuldashev and Juma Namangani originally founded a militant organization, Adolat, in 1991 to establish Islamic law in Uzbekistan. When the group was outlawed by Uzbek President Karimov, the leaders established a new base in Tajikistan, from which they launched cross-border attacks in Uzbekistan. In 1998, as the Karimov government began increasingly to crackdown on Uzbek Muslim communities, Yuldashev and Namangani formally established the IMU and received Taliban permission to establish a base in Afghanistan.[i] The new group declared jihad in Uzbekistan and declared its intent to expel Karimov and install shariah law in Uzbekistan.[ii]

At the time of its inception, the IMU received substantial funds from Al Qaeda (AQ) leader Osama bin Laden, which proved crucial to the establishment of the group. As a result, the IMU launched multiple high-profile attacks, such as the August 2000 assault on Tajik border villages; it is unclear if the group was responsible for the February 1999 Tashkent bombings.[iii] Following the bombings, the Uzbek government initially accused Hizb ut Tahrir, a Pan-Islamic party, leading to the mass arrest and torture of Muslims.[iv] Until late 2001, the IMU maintained a targeted guerrilla campaign against the Uzbek government and security forces, with supporting bases in Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan. Following 9/11 and the launch of Operation Enduring Freedom, the IMU shifted its focus to battling US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan, an effort which strengthened collaboration and ideological ties between the IMU, AQ, and the Afghan Taliban.[v] The IMU increasingly began to target all those opposed to its goal of establishing a transnational caliphate in Central Asia, and attacked western and allied interests in the region. The IMU also maintained close relations with the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP); the two groups collaborated to attack the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi, Pakistan, in 2014, and established a joint militant group, Ansar al-Aseen, to free TTP militants in Pakistani prisons.[vi]

Following the Pakistani government’s launch of Operation Zarb-e-Azb in June 2014 against militant groups in the country, the IMU suffered heavy casualties and relocated many of its operations in Pakistan to Northern Afghanistan. From its Afghan bases, the group supported the Afghan Taliban’s spring 2015 offensive against government forces in the country.[vii]

In August 2015, after a period of declining relations with the Afghan Taliban, IMU leader Usman Ghazi pledged loyalty to the Islamic State (IS). This was a controversial move given IS’s recent clashes and hostile relations with the Afghan Taliban in the Afghan-Pakistan region. The IMU subsequently began fighting against government forces in Afghanistan’s northern provinces and Pakistan alongside IS’s regional affiliate, the Islamic State Khorasan Province (IS-KP).[viii]

With IS’s major territorial defeats in 2017, the IMU has increasingly advocated lone wolf attacks and others not requiring weapons expertise, such as vehicular attacks.[ix] Some sources suggest that the militants responsible for the Manhattan attack in October 2017 and the July 2018 attack on bikers in Tajikistan may have been affiliated with the IMU.[x]



[i] Sharipzhan, Merhat. “IMU Declares It Is Now Part of the Islamic State.” Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty, 06 Aug. 2015. Web. 22 Aug. 2018.

[ii] Roggio, Bill. “Tahir Yuldashev confirmed killed in US strike in South Waziristan.” The Long War Journal, 04 Oct. 2009. Web. 22 Aug. 2018.

[iii] Rabasa, Angel, et al. “The Caucasus and Central Asia.” Beyond Al-Qaeda: Part 1, The Global Jihadist Movement, RAND Corporation, 2006. Pp. 105–118. JSTOR; Chivers, C. J. “Threats and Responses: Central Asia; Uzbek Militants’ Decline Provides Clues to U.S.” New York Times, 2002. Web. 30 Aug. 2018.

[iv] Ilkhamov, Alisher. “Mystery Surrounds Tashkent Explosions.” Middle East Research and Information Project, 15 April 2004. Web. 30 Aug. 2018.

[v] Rabasa, Angel, et al. “The Caucasus and Central Asia.” Beyond Al-Qaeda: Part 1, The Global Jihadist Movement, RAND Corporation, 2006. Pp. 105–118. JSTOR.

[vi] Kaura, Vinay. “Uzbekistan ups its involvement in Afghanistan.” Middle East Institute, 31 Jan. 2018. Web. 22 Aug. 2018.

[vii] Azamy, Hekmatullah. “Will the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) Trade the Taliban for ISIS?” Counter Terrorist Trends and Analyses, vol. 7, no. 6, 2015, pp. 30–35. JSTOR.

[viii] Azamy, Hekmatullah. “Will the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) Trade the Taliban for ISIS?” Counter Terrorist Trends and Analyses, vol. 7, no. 6, 2015, pp. 30–35. JSTOR.

[ix] Ioffe, Julia. “Why Does Uzbekistan Export So Many Terrorists?” The Atlantic, 01 Nov. 2017. Web. 25 Aug. 2018.

[x] Kramer, Andrew E. “New York Attack Turns Focus to Central Asian Militancy.” NY Times, 01 Nov. 2017. Web. 22 Aug. 2018; Shuster, Simon. “Uzbekistan’s history with Islam might explain a lot about the New York attack suspect.” TIME, 01 Nov. 2017. Web. 22 Aug. 2018; Ioffe, Julia. “Why does Uzbekistan export so many terrorists?” The Atlantic, 01 Nov. 2017. Web. 22 Aug. 2018.

 

Organizational Structure

Leadership, Name Changes, Size Estimates, Resources, Geographic Locations

    Leadership
  • Leadership
  • Juma Namangani (1998 to November 2001)
  • Tahir Yuldashev (November 2001 to August 27, 2009)
  • Abu Usman Adil (August 17, 2010 to April 29, 2012)
  • Usman Ghazi (August 2012 to December 2015)

Leadership

This section describes various leaders, their deputies, and other important officials in the militant organization.

Juma Namangani (1998 to November 2001)

Namangani co-founded the IMU with Tahir Yuldashev and served as its head military leader. He died during a raid by anti-Taliban fighters in the US-led invasion of Afghanistan.[i]



[i] Roggio, Bill. “Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan confirms leader Tahir Yuldashev killed.” The Long War Journal, 16 Aug. 2010. Web. 25 Aug. 2018.

 

Tahir Yuldashev (November 2001 to August 27, 2009)

Yuldashev co-founded the IMU and served as its first emir. He was allegedly a senior commander resisting US forces during Operation Anaconda in 2002, in eastern Afghanistan. He also served on Al Qaeda’s Shura Majlis top council. Yuldashev was killed in a US drone strike in Pakistan.[i]



[i] Roggio, Bill. “Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan confirms leader Tahir Yuldashev killed.” The Long War Journal, 16 Aug. 2010. Web. 25 Aug. 2018.

 

Abu Usman Adil (August 17, 2010 to April 29, 2012)

Adil was an associate of his predecessor Yuldashev. Under Adil’s leadership, the IMU expanded its operations in northern and eastern Afghanistan, and the Central Asian republics. He was killed in a US drone strike in 2012.[i]



[i] Roggio, Bill. “2 IMU Leaders Captured in Northern Afghanistan.” The Long War Journal, 09 Feb. 2013. Web. 25 Aug. 2018.

 

Usman Ghazi (August 2012 to December 2015)

Ghazi was Adil’s deputy and became emir of IMU after his death. He declared support for IS in September 2014 and pledged the IMU’s loyalty to the group in August 2015. Ghazi was killed by Taliban forces in late 2015.[i] The current leader of the IMU is unknown.



[i] “Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.” Australian National Security, 03 March 2018. Web. 22 Aug. 2018; Rabasa, Angel, et al. “The Caucasus and Central Asia.” Beyond Al-Qaeda: Part 1, The Global Jihadist Movement, RAND Corporation, 2006. Pp. 105–118. JSTOR.

 

    Name Changes
  • Name Changes
  • Size Estimates
  • Resources
  • Geographic Locations

Name Changes

There are no recorded name changes for this group.

Size Estimates

  • 2001: 1,500 – 2,000 (New York Times)[i]
  • Late 2001: 500 (UN Security Council)[ii]
  • 2010: 2,500 – 4,000 (The Long War Journal)[iii]
  • 2015: 5,000 – 7,000 (Azamy)[iv]
  • 2016: 200 – 300 (Australian National Security)[v]


[i] Chivers, C. J. “Threats and Responses: Central Asia; Uzbek Militants’ Decline Provides Clues to U.S.” New York Times, 2002. Web. 30 Aug. 2018.

[ii] “Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.” UN Security Council, 07 April 2011. Web. 23 Aug. 2018.

[iii] Roggio, Bill. “Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan confirms leader Tahir Yuldashev killed.” The Long War Journal, 16 Aug. 2010. Web. 25 Aug. 2018.

[iv] Azamy, Hekmatullah. “Will the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) Trade the Taliban for ISIS?” Counter Terrorist Trends and Analyses, vol. 7, no. 6, 2015, pp. 30–35. JSTOR.

[v] “Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.” Australian National Security, 03 March 2018. Web. 22 Aug. 2018.

 

Resources

The group’s main sources of funding include racketeering, ransom payments for hostages, and collecting foreign donations. It allegedly maintained lucrative drug trafficking networks throughout Central Asia. The IMU also receives funds from the Uzbek diaspora and donors in Europe, Central/ South Asia, and the Middle East.[i]

In the late 1990s, the IMU, alongside other militant groups, received weapons, financial support, training, and leadership support from Osama bin Laden, which helped the group to begin launching major attacks.[ii]



[i] “Country Reports on Terrorism 2016 –Foreign Terrorist Organizations: Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU).” UNHCR, 19 July 2017. Web. 24 Aug. 2018.

[ii] Rabasa, Angel, et al. “The Caucasus and Central Asia.” Beyond Al-Qaeda: Part 1, The Global Jihadist Movement, RAND Corporation, 2006. Pp. 105–118. JSTOR.

 

Geographic Locations

Disclaimer: This is a partial list of where the militant organization has bases and where it operates. This does not include information on where the group conducts major attacks or has external influences.

From 1998 – 2001, the IMU operated mainly in Afghanistan, cooperating with the Afghan Taliban regime and Al Qaeda forces in the country. In its efforts to wage a guerrilla campaign against the Uzbekistan government, the group also maintained supporting bases in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan. After the collapse of the Taliban government in Afghanistan in late 2001, the IMU shifted its main base of operations to Pakistan, along the Afghan-Pakistan border, with some forces located in North Afghanistan.[i] IMU militants are suspected to have engaged in attacks in Syria. Uzbek and other Central Asian militants with possible connections to the IMU have also carried out attacks in the US and western Europe.[ii]

The Ferghana Valley, at the intersection of Uzbekistan, Kyrgystan, and Tajikistan’s borders, is an important recruitment area for the IMU. The group also has training bases in Afghanistan’s northern and central provinces.[iii]



[i] Roggio, Bill. “Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan names Abu Usman as new leader.” The Long War Journal, 17 Aug. 2010. Web. 25 Aug. 2018.

[ii] Kramer, Andrew E. “New York Attack Turns Focus to Central Asian Militancy.” NY Times, 01 Nov. 2017. Web. 22 Aug. 2018; Shuster, Simon. “Uzbekistan’s history with Islam might explain a lot about the New York attack suspect.” TIME, 01 Nov. 2017. Web. 22 Aug. 2018; Ioffe, Julia. “Why does Uzbekistan export so many terrorists?” The Atlantic, 01 Nov. 2017. Web. 22 Aug. 2018; Witter, David. “Uzbek Militancy in Pakistan’s Tribal Regions.” Institute for the Study of War, 27 Jan. 2011. Web. 30 Aug. 2018.

[iii] “Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.” Australian National Security, 03 March 2018. Web. 22 Aug. 2018.

 

Strategy

Ideology, Aims, Political Activities, Targets, and Tactics

    Ideology and Goals
  • Ideology and Goals
  • Political Activities
  • Targets and Tactics

Ideology and Goals

The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) is a Salafi-jihadist militant group. The group initially sought to overturn the secular, authoritarian government in Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov. Under the influence of the Afghan Taliban, the IMU expanded its goals to establishment of an Islamic caliphate throughout Central Asia.[i] The IMU shared IS’s belief in a radical Salafist ideology and its commitment to global jihad, an important factor in its ultimate support for the group.[ii]



[i] Kaura, Vinay. “Uzbekistan ups its involvement in Afghanistan.” Middle East Institute, 31 Jan. 2018. Web. 22 Aug. 2018.

[ii] Azamy, Hekmatullah. “Will the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) Trade the Taliban for ISIS?” Counter Terrorist Trends and Analyses, vol. 7, no. 6, 2015, pp. 30–35. JSTOR.

 

Political Activities

The IMU had a conflictual relationship with the authoritarian and anti-Islamic government of Uzbek President Islam Karimov, who imposed many policies intending to restrict the religious practices of the Muslim majority. The subsequent spread of Islamic extremism among the Uzbek population was allegedly an expression of anti-authoritarianism and opposition to the administration’s violence and corruption.[i]



[i] Ioffe, Julia. “Why Does Uzbekistan Export So Many Terrorists?” The Atlantic, 01 Nov. 2017. Web. 25 Aug. 2018.

 

Targets and Tactics

Prior to October 2001, the IMU targeted Uzbek government forces and affiliated subjects, conducting bombings and hostage-taking operations. During US-led Operation Enduring Freedom in 2001, the group shifted its focus to battling US and international forces in Afghanistan, alongside AQ and the Afghan Taliban. After 2001, the IMU began targeting government forces in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and all those opposed to the IMU’s vision of a regional Islamic caliphate.[i] The group conducted suicide attacks, bombings, and raids on coalition forces, the International Security Assistance Force, and other western interests in Central Asia. [ii] With IS’s declining territorial control, the IMU has increasingly advocated lone wolf attacks and others not requiring weapons expertise, such as vehicular attacks.[iii]

The organization also publishes propaganda material and audio statements via its media branch, Jundallah Studio. The IMU has conducted extensive propaganda activity, publishing videos of executions and IMU fighters launching attacks, and video messages urging individuals throughout the Caucasus to join the jihadi cause.[iv]



[i] Rabasa, Angel, et al. “The Caucasus and Central Asia.” Beyond Al-Qaeda: Part 1, The Global Jihadist Movement, RAND Corporation, 2006. Pp. 105–118. JSTOR.

[ii] “Country Reports on Terrorism 2016 –Foreign Terrorist Organizations: Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU).” UNHCR, 19 July 2017. Web. 24 Aug. 2018.

[iii] Ioffe, Julia. “Why Does Uzbekistan Export So Many Terrorists?” The Atlantic, 01 Nov. 2017. Web. 25 Aug. 2018.

[iv] “Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.” Australian National Security, 03 March 2018. Web. 22 Aug. 2018.

 

Major Attacks

First Attacks, Largest Attacks, Notable Attacks

Major Attacks

Disclaimer: These are some selected major attacks in the militant organization's history. It is not a comprehensive listing, but captures some of the most famous attacks or turning points during the campaign.

  1. February 16, 1999: Militants launched 5 simultaneous car bombs in Tashkent, the Uzbek capital, one of which almost killed President Karimov. The Uzbek government blamed the IMU for the attack, but this allegation has not been independently verified (16+ killed, 100+ wounded).[i]
  2. August 1999: On August 9, an IMU guerrilla group kidnapped the mayor and three officials from a small village in western Kyrgyzstan. Within a week, the Kyrgyzstani government fulfilled IMU demands for a ransom payment and a helicopter for safe passage to Tajikistan. On August 23, the IMU took four Japanese geologists and eight Kyrgyz soldiers hostage in southern Kyrgyzstan. The final hostages were freed after two months (unknown killed, unknown wounded).[ii]
  3. December 2002 – May 2003: The IMU launched four explosions in the Kyrgyz cities of Osh and Bishkek that killed eight people (8 killed, unknown wounded).[iii]
  4. July 30, 2004: The IMU launched multiple suicide strikes against the embassies of Israel and the U.S. in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. On the same day, a suicide bomber also attacked a car containing Pakistan’s prime minister designate (2 killed, 9 wounded).[iv]
  5. June 2007: The IMU allegedly participated in the Red Mosque siege in Islamabad, Pakistan. Militants held at least 250 people hostage as they fought Pakistani forces for control of the mosque (62 killed, unknown wounded).[v]
  6. September 19, 2010: The IMU claimed responsibility for the ambush of a convoy of Tajiki soldiers in the Rasht Valley in Tajikistan, killing 25 soldiers (25 killed, unknown wounded).[vi]
  7. April 5, 2012: The IMU, with Pakistani Taliban and TTP militants, attacked the Bannu Prison in Pakistan and freed 384 prisoners, including several that were described as “very dangerous” (unknown killed, 5 wounded).[vii]
  8. June 8, 2014: The IMU participated in the attack on the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi, Pakistan, alongside the TTP and Pakistani Taliban. All 10 attackers died in the attack (36 killed, unknown wounded).[viii]
  9. February 2015: The IMU took around 30 Hazara men hostage in Zabul province, Afghanistan. The group published a video of the beheading of one of the hostages, an Afghan National Army soldier, the following month. The kidnapping was allegedly in response to the arrest of female IMU supporters by the Afghan government (1 killed, unknown wounded).[ix]
  10. October 31, 2017: An Uzbek militant crashed a truck into civilians on a bike path in Manhattan, instigating what some consider the deadliest militant attack in New York since 9/11. Some sources suggest that he was affiliated with the IMU (8 killed, 11 wounded).[x]
  11. July 29, 2018: The Islamic State claimed responsibility for an attack on foreign cyclists in Tajikistan’s Danghara district. It is possible that the militants were affiliated with the IMU, which operates in the area (4 killed, 3 wounded).[xi]


[i] Rabasa, Angel, et al. “The Caucasus and Central Asia.” Beyond Al-Qaeda: Part 1, The Global Jihadist Movement, RAND Corporation, 2006. Pp. 105–118. JSTOR.

[ii] “Japanese hostages released in Kyrgyzstan.” BBC News, 25 Oct. 1999. Web. 25 Aug. 2018; Rashid, Ahmed. “They’re only sleeping.” The New Yorker, 14 Jan. 2002. Web. 30 Aug. 2018.

[iii] “Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan| Narrative Summaries of Reasons for Listing.” UN Security Council, 07 April 2011. Web. 28 Aug. 2018.

[iv] Glasser, Susan B. “U.S., Israeli Embassies Hit in Uzbek Bomb Attacks.” Washington Post, 31 July 2004. Web. 28 Aug. 2018.

[v] Walsh, Declan. “Red Mosque siege declared over.” The Guardian, 11 July 2007. Web. 25 Aug. 2018.

[vi] Roggio, Bill. “25 Tajik soldiers killed in Islamist ambush.” The Long War Journal, 19 Sept. 2010. Web. 25 Aug. 2018.

[vii] Adeel, Fida, et al. “Prison break: Taliban attack Bannu jail, nearly 400 inmates escape.” The Express Tribune, 15 April 2012. Web. 25 Aug. 2018.

[viii] “Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.” Australian National Security, 03 March 2018. Web. 22 Aug. 2018; Crilly, Rob. “Karachi airport attack: Taliban gunmen terror attack leaves 28 dead.” The Telegraph, 09 June 2014. Web. 25 Aug. 2018.

[ix] Mehl, Damon. “The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan Opens a Door to the Islamic State.” Combatting Terrorism Center, June 2015. Web. 25 Aug. 2018.

[x] Kramer, Andrew E. “New York Attack Turns Focus to Central Asian Militancy.” NY Times, 01 Nov. 2017. Web. 22 Aug. 2018; Shuster, Simon. “Uzbekistan’s history with Islam might explain a lot about the New York attack suspect.” TIME, 01 Nov. 2017. Web. 22 Aug. 2018; Ioffe, Julia. “Why does Uzbekistan export so many terrorists?” The Atlantic, 01 Nov. 2017. Web. 22 Aug. 2018.

[xi] Luhn, Alec. “Western cyclists killed in suspected terrorist attack in Tajikistan.” The Telegraph, 30 July 2018. Web. 25 Aug. 2018.

 

Interactions

Foreign Designations and Listings, Community Relations, Relations with Other Groups, State Sponsors and External Influences

    Designated/ Listed
  • Designated/ Listed
  • Community Relations
  • Relationships with Other Groups
  • State Sponsors and External Influences

Designated/ Listed

  • U.S State Department Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO): September 25, 2000 – Present.[i]
  • UNSC “ISIL (Da'esh) & Al-Qaida Sanctions List”: October 6, 2001 to Present.[ii]
  • United Kingdom Home Office Proscribed Terrorist Organization: November 2002 to Present.[iii]
  • Government of Canada Listed Terrorist Entity: April 2, 2003 to Present.[iv]
  • Australian National Security Terrorist Organization: April 11, 2003 to Present.[v]
  • Kazakhstan Listed Terrorist Organization: October 15, 2004 to Present.[vi]


[i] “Foreign Terrorist Organizations.” U.S. Department of State, Dec. 2015. Web. 22 Aug. 2018.

[ii] “Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.” UN Security Council, 07 April 2011. Web. 23 Aug. 2018.

[iii] “Proscribed Terrorist Organisations.” UK Home Office, 22 Dec. 2017. Web. 26 June 2018.

[iv] Government of Canada. “Currently listed entities.” Public Safety Canada, 15 Feb. 2018. Web. 26 June 2018.

[v] “Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.” Australian National Security, n.d. Web. 30 Aug. 2018.

[vi] “The list of prohibited foreign organizations in Kazakhstan.” EGov.kz, n.d. Web. 30 Aug. 2018.

 

Community Relations

The IMU and other militant groups have carried out extensive propaganda and recruitment campaigns in Central Asia. However, they have limited appeal among Muslim communities in the region, which are typically opposed to calls for a regional Islamic caliphate.[i]



[i] Soliev, Nodirbek. “Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.” Counter Terrorist Trends and Analyses, vol. 7, no. 1, Jan/Feb. 2015. pp. 50-57. JSTOR.

 

Relationships with Other Groups

The IMU had long-standing relations with the Afghan Taliban. In 1998, IMU co-founders Namangani and Yuldashev formally established the group and began conducting operations in Afghanistan as guests of Taliban regime in Afghanistan. In exchange for Taliban patronage, the IMU trafficked the group’s illegal drugs throughout Central Asia. The IMU also supported the Taliban in fighting against Northern Alliance forces during the group’s reign in Afghanistan and in battling US-led coalition forces under Operation Enduring Freedom. After the overthrow of the Afghan Taliban regime, the IMU maintained close relations with its shadow government in northern Afghanistan.

The IMU also maintained strong relations with Al Qaeda. In the late 1990s, AQ leader Osama bin Laden provided funding that contributed to the establishment of the IMU. AQ provided weapons, training, and financial and logistical support to the IMU until 2002, while the IMU operated primarily in Afghanistan. This aid allowed the nascent IMU to launch several high profile attacks in 1999 and 2000.[i]

After the IMU relocated to Pakistan in late 2001, it established training camps in the country under the protection of the Pakistani Taliban. Around this time, the group also developed a strong cooperative relationship with the AQ-aligned Haqqani Network. The two groups collaborated to launch multiple attacks. Moreover, the Haqqani Network helped to train IMU militants, and the IMU, in turn, provided fighters for attacks.[ii]

Another close ally of the IMU in Pakistan was Tehrik-i-Taliban (TTP); the two groups cooperated to launch multiple attacks against Pakistani security forces. In 2013, the IMU and TTP also formed a joint unit, Ansar al-Aseer, to free TTP members from Pakistani prisons.[iii]

In August 2015, after a period of declining relations with the Afghan Taliban, IMU leader Usman Ghazi pledged loyalty to the Islamic State (IS). The group subsequently began fighting against government forces in Afghanistan’s northern provinces and Pakistan alongside IS’s regional affiliate, the Islamic State Khorasan Province (IS-KP).[iv] In late 2015, followers of IMU emir Ghazi allegedly fought alongside IS fighters in Afghanistan against the Afghan Taliban.

Several splinter groups formed out of the IMU over the course of its militant activity. Jamaat Ansarullah, a Tajik splinter group, formed in response to the IMU’s declaration of support for IS and reaffirmed its allegiance to the Taliban. Jundullah, a militant group based in Afghanistan, split from the IMU in 2009 following the death of emir Yuldashev. Jundullah shared similar goals with the IMU, and the two groups maintained cooperative relations. The Islamic Jihad Group, later renamed the Islamic Jihad Union, formed in 2002 after the IMU relocated to Pakistan; the group cooperated with the IMU and the Haqqani Network for operations in southeast Afghanistan.[v]



[i] Rabasa, Angel, et al. “The Caucasus and Central Asia.” Beyond Al-Qaeda: Part 1, The Global Jihadist Movement, RAND Corporation, 2006. Pp. 105–118. JSTOR.

[ii] Feldholm, Michael. “From the Ferghana Valley to Waziristan and Beyond.” Monterey Terrorism Research and Education Program, 25 Aug. 2010. Web. 30 Aug. 2018.

[iii] Feldholm, Michael. “From the Ferghana Valley to Waziristan and Beyond.” Monterey Terrorism Research and Education Program, 25 Aug. 2010. Web. 30 Aug. 2018.

[iv] Mehl, Damon. “The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan Opens a Door to the Islamic State.” Combatting Terrorism Center, June 2015. Web. 25 Aug. 2018.

[v] “Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan| Narrative Summaries of Reasons for Listing.” UN Security Council, 07 April 2011. Web. 28 Aug. 2018; Ovozi, Quishloq. “The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan: An Evolving Threat.” Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty, 31 May 2014. Web.30 Aug. 2018.

 

State Sponsors and External Influences

In the late 1990s, the IMU received substantial support, including weapons, financial support, training, and leadership support from AQ leader Osama bin Laden, which was critical for the establishment of the IMU. [i] The Taliban regime in Afghanistan also served as an early patron for the IMU and allowed the group to operate in Afghanistan until the regime’s collapse. While the IMU pledged loyalty to IS and fought alongside IS militants in Afghanistan, the nature of IS’s support for the IMU is not known.[ii]



[i] Rabasa, Angel, et al. “The Caucasus and Central Asia.” Beyond Al-Qaeda: Part 1, The Global Jihadist Movement, RAND Corporation, 2006. Pp. 105–118. JSTOR.

[ii] Weiss, Caleb. “Islamic State eulogizes former Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan figure killed in Iraq.” The Long War Journal, 08 Nov. 2017. Web. 30 Aug. 2018.

 

Maps

The project develops a series of interactive diagrams that “map” relationships among groups and show how those relationships change over time. The user can change map settings to display different features (e.g., leadership changes), adjust the time scale, and trace individual groups.

Evolving Militant Interactions

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