Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Making Foothils out of Footnotes

Partway through Decoding the New Taliban: Insights from the Afghan Field (which is fantastic and will be reviewed when I'm finished) I came across the following footnote to an article by Thomas Tuttig on Loya Paktia:
"'Taliban release video of German who Targeted US Afghan Base'"[cited]....According to one source, it 'appears the IJU is an umbrella term used to link a network of affiliated Jamoat groups from Central Asia, comprised of Kyrgyz, Uzbek, and Kazakh radicals, linked to, but not formally associated with, the IMU'. Another source describes it as an 'offshoot' of the IMU' and as 'dominated by Turkish Jihadists', at least members of the German Turkish Community[cite1],[cite2, same article, but originally from a different, less They Live! website]...The former British Amabassador to Uzbekistan, however, believes that IJU is a creation of the Uzbek Secret Service."[cite3]
OK, huh??? I obviously cut out the cites in favor of hyperlinks, but the footnote is referring to a bit on the relationship between the IJU as "the obscure Uzbek-Turkish Islami Cihad Ittehadi" Najmiddin Jalolov, and the Haqqani network. So there's a whole dogs breakfast of ethnicities and nationalities being jumbled together, and this footnote doesn't even mention the casual acceptance of Chechens swarming Afghanistan.

Ruttig is obviously a very sharp guy, and his CV is far more impressive than mine, and he cites Guido Steinberg, my favorite name in academia since P.L.O Guy, and I'm not knocking his research or writing at all...but that above paragraph displays a huge friction between the reality of terrorist groups and the study of them.

The first article is cited because of this note:
The plotters, who included two German converts to Islam and a Turkish Muslim, had allegedly been planning large bomb attacks on U.S. facilities in Germany. All have been linked to the Uzbek terrorist group Islamic Jihad Union. The videotape released in Peshawar also includes a message of Maulvi Jalaluddin Haqqani, one of the most wanted commanders in Afghanistan.
So far, we have 3 Germans, one of which is of indeterminate Turkish/swarthy origin, the other two apparently look like Beckenbauer. OK, maybe the linkage between them and IJU is confidential, that's fine, let's run with it.

The second link to Jamestown paints a very different picture of IJU. It discusses the same incident as above, but then goes into a quick history linking the IJU, IMU, IMT (Islamic Movement of Turkistan), East Turkistan Islamic Movement, Jamiati Tabligh, and assorted Kyrgyz and Kazakhs who got caught up in the movement. So what is this pan-ethnic, muti-tentacled, beast doing in Uzbekistan?
In effect, this culminated in the events in Andijan in which a peaceful demonstration against the arrest of 23 businessmen quickly escalated.
Oh. To be fair, this article was written in 2007 when I also still thought that terrorists had a big hand in Andijan, but, well, they didn't. The IJU, IMU, IMT are still fighting mostly in Afghanistan/Pakistan, and the real heavy fighting hasn't made Uzbekistan for a multitude of reasons.

The last article doesn't cite any sources for its portion on "An Uzbek-Turkish al-Qaeda" because that doesn't make any sense. To wit:
Whether the IJU can establish a new terrorist network dominated by Uzbeks and Turks and maintain it in the longer term remains to be seen. But the events of 2007 have given a clear warning. An Uzbek organization that operates transnationally and adopts an internationalist strategy like the IJU is ideally suited for recruiting Turks—either from Turkey itself or from the European diaspora—for al-Qaeda’s global Jihad.
That's pure Eurabia-level scare tactics. We have located one Turk in this entire web, and he wasn't actually Turkish, but German. In fact, we have twice as many Europeans as Turks so far, if we're going to make that distinction. The concept of Turks having an al-Qaeda uprising RIGHT IN EUROPE'S BACKYARD needs a wee bit more fleshing out before Munich joins the Exotic Place of Danger Watch.

As for what Amb. Murray has to say, well, the Uzbek internet militia have already been at this site in full force, so I hesitate to comment. He's probably the loudest, most famous, critic of Karimov's regime, but that cuts both ways. I'm a sucker for conspiracy theories, but I'm still looking for more verifiable proof that the Uzbek Government funds IJU.

So all in all, we still don't know what the IJU is about after looking into assertions on what the IJU is about. It's certainly possible that they want to turn the entire Dar al-Islam into a caliphate capitaled at Samarkand. It's also entirely possible that they only exist in the failed state between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and that any pan-Turanian branding is just that, branding. Just because an organization wants to have Kyrgyz, Kazakh, Turkish, Uyghur, Chechen (I wonder if there are any Buryat, Tatar, or Kabardin terrorists...especially Tatars, wouldn't want to mess with them) fighters doesn't mean they exist in amounts worth putting resources towards.

If you want to save Central Asian from amorphous, platonically ideal, bad guys, then look towards good governance, fighting corruption, instilling civic pride and smart urban planning, education reforms, and by all means make sure the resource wealth gets converted into something useful. A pan-Turanian Takfiri uprising may just get put down without it getting started that way.

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