Tuesday, December 6, 2005

An "Islamic terrorist" talks about himself and the Islamist movement

/ terrorists / talkative /
The Moscow News has an interview with alleged intelligence chief of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, extradited from Pakistan and awaiting trial in Tashkent. Shukhrat Masirokhunov, ex-Komsomol cadre, son of an Uzbek CPSU functionary, turned local oligarch, turned Islamist Mujahedeen, talks about many interesting things, so interesting in fact as to be suspicious, given the fact that he freely admits to cooperating with the authorities:

q: Have you been subjected to "“enhanced interrogation techniques"” in Uzbekistan?

a:There was no need. We are all professionals. I know that today there is no problem getting any information from a person so I cooperated voluntarily.

One wonders if the cooperation includes a (partially even) scripted interview in which (Uzbek? FSB? ISI? a little bit of everything?) secret services spread a little bit of what they want to disseminate for reasons of their own. Plus, the guy comes off as some sort of cool and almost disinterested observer of the situation, hardly a fanatic of any sorts. Which might or might not mean something - who knows?

To get an idea of the regional situation the New Yorker had a piece (2002) on the islamic movements in Central Asia which provides excellent background - see also this Radio Free Europe article on the same subject (2004).

Here's some main points of the interview:

- Al Qaeda is connected but not running the Central Asian islamic movements
- Al Qaeda was thinking of exploding "dirty bombs" in various places. The organization is already in possesion of such "dirty bombs" - probably.
- Dr. Abdul Kadyr Khan father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb, met with bin Laden in Kandahar and provided the material for such bombs (relevant story). The Americans discoveredtwo nuclear laboratories in Afghanistan, but never admitted it.
- The islamists had chemical and bacteriological capabilities. Laboratories were based in the Pankisi Gorge in Georgia (see here for a skeptical take on the Pankisi Gorge myth though).
- The Taliban funded the whole business lavishly. He personally had enough money to send home - via Iran, to which he travelled to cable the cash home (eh?).
- In Pakistan people sympathize with the islamists and there is no way that they will be cleaned up from the country because of this support. Bin Laden is in Pakistan and the Pakistani government doesn't want to catch him.
- American agents tried to turn him while he was held prisoner in Pakistan, arguing that Karimov is their common enemy.
- Namangani is confirmed dead.
- Americans are in contact with various islamist factions, trying to play one against the other.
- Afghanistan is outside of US control. The US will have to leave soon. They will be forced out of Iraq as well.
- The IMU has become a pan-turkic islamic movement. He calls it the Islamic Movement of Turkestan now, yet reports call it the Islamic Party of Turkestan. A minor slip possibly.
- Their training camps are in Afghanistan and Pakistan. They're moving into Kyrgyzstan. They are supported there:

"...by a local drug baron, Erkinbayev, as well as a member of parliament. I do not know his name, but he went to Iran to meet with Makhmud Rustamov, who was in charge of external relations. They discussed Kyrgyz POWs who we had taken during the Batken events.

- Also:
One route from Afghanistan to Uzbekistan lies through Tajikistan and then on to Kyrgyzstan. Our men were carried there in vehicles from the Tajik Emergency Situations Ministry. This ministry helped many of our men to get jobs and housing. For example, Rasul Okhunov, a member of our movement, worked for the ministry.

Incidentally, U.S. instructors -— specialists in explosive demolition and commando operations -— trained government servicemen at the Ministry's bases in Kairakkum, Taboshar and Shurabe."

A problem is that Erkinbayev is dead, murdered this past September. Though it is possible that Masirokhunov hasn't been informed of this, it remains an impressive gap, especially since Erkinbayev, a "tulip revolution" figure and Kung Fu master, doesn't seem like the kind of person who would invest in this sort of political horse - yet appearances might be deceiving.

All in all spectacular and, who knows, maybe even to an extent true.

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