Libmonster ID: KZ-2132
Author(s) of the publication: D. FAYZULLAYEV


Candidate of Economic Sciences

Currently, Islamic extremism is perceived as one of the most serious threats to the world community. The United States, Russia, many European countries and a number of other countries have adopted legislation prohibiting the activities of radical Islamic organizations on their territory.1

In this regard, the study of the nature of this phenomenon, the causes of its occurrence and activation since the beginning of the 90s of the last century is of particular relevance.


The phenomenon of Islamic radicalism has its own specifics in the post-Soviet space. Its origin dates back to the late 1980s and early 1990s and is directly related to the collapse of the USSR.

The evolution of Islam in the post-Soviet space went through several stages: from the religious upsurge of the early 1990s to its gradual politicization and the emergence of radical Islamist movements and groups.

It should be noted that in the early 1990s, not only Islam, but also all faiths represented in the USSR, experienced a revival of interest in them, a kind of religious boom. This was primarily due to the collapse of the former ideological foundations of Soviet society. In the conditions of an ideological vacuum, a certain part of the population turned to religion in search of new ideological guidelines.

Gradually, political features began to appear more clearly in the activities of many Islamic organizations - Islam acquired a religious and political orientation.

In the Soviet Union, the church was separated from the state, but at the same time the state sought maximum control over the activities of the church, which was manifested in the emergence of special control bodies subordinate to the Department for Relations with Religious Organizations under the Council of Ministers of the USSR, as well as such a phenomenon as "official clergy". Its representatives were close to the ruling elite and often served as agents of its policies.

This applied to the two largest confessions in Russia - Orthodoxy and Islam. If for Orthodoxy the idea of an "official clergy" had a certain historical tradition since pre-Soviet times, then for Islam this phenomenon was rather unnatural.

Islam, as you know, does not recognize the religious hierarchy of the clergy, and this denomination does not have the institution of the church as an intermediary between the believer and God. The religious life of a Muslim community can be managed, with the consent of believers, by "any adult Muslim who has sufficient knowledge and moral authority... without a special ordination procedure, without acquiring any social privileges. " 2

The formation of the institutions of "official Islam" in the USSR did not lead to the disappearance of traditional methods of electing religious leaders and spiritual mentors. On the contrary, this has led to the parallel existence of a significant number of unofficial mosques for decades, along with the official structures for managing the spiritual life of Muslims. Thus, by the early 1990s, in the post-Soviet states of Central Asia, the number of unregistered mosques exceeded the number of official ones by 20x3.

Since independence, the number of mosques in Central Asian states has increased significantly, which is largely due to the transition of "unofficial Islam" to legal status. A number of representatives of" unofficial Islam " later became organizers and participants of radical Islamic groups operating in Central Asia. Thus, "unofficial" religious leaders D. Namangani and T. Yuldashev headed the "Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan" (IMU).4

The politicization of Islam is also evident in the creation and functioning of numerous Muslim socio-political organizations, and some of them have become radical.

There is no doubt that the most important feature of Islamic radicalism is its political, not religious component. Point

page 15

This phenomenon consists in "the use by various Islamist groups, which aim to seize political power, of methods of struggle that go beyond those that are legitimate from the point of view of international law".5

Such factors as the lack of a coherent system of Muslim theological education, the low authority of representatives of "official" Islam associated with corrupt government structures, and the ambitious aspirations of a number of "new wave" politicians in Central Asian states to integrate into the world Muslim community in order to receive financial assistance from rich Arab countries also contributed to the penetration and rooting of radical interpretations of Islam. states.

In the 1990s, the Central Asian states also had very favorable socio-economic conditions for the growth of the influence of radical religious views. Major changes in the early 1990s shook society. The collapse of the unified economic system and the beginning of market reforms led to a sharp drop in living standards throughout the former Soviet Union, and in the Central Asian region in particular.

The growing number of the poor, unemployment, overcrowding, and the lack of any prospects for young people have led to the fact that a certain part of the population began to listen to the activists of religious organizations who called for the creation of an Islamic state as a panacea for solving all problems.

Such propaganda was particularly successful in cases where Islamists paid real money to participate in the organization's activities. So, in the late 1990s, you could earn $ 50 - $ 100 for putting up flyers. per month. This is a very significant amount for all states in the region, where a person who earned $ 20 - $ 25 is considered to be a poor person. per month, was considered successful at that time 6.

So, in modern conditions, Islamic radicalism has turned out to be a convenient tool in the hands of those who pursue completely non-religious goals.


Radical Islamic organizations were active in all Central Asian states, but they were most active in Uzbekistan and the border areas of neighboring states - the southern regions of Kyrgyzstan and the northern regions of Tajikistan.

Uzbekistan is of particular interest to Islamic radicals. It is identified as the center around which it is planned to create an Islamic state-caliphate-in Central Asia.7 The reasons for this choice are quite obvious. The country occupies an advantageous geopolitical position, being at the intersection of trade routes not only of all states in the region, but also of the Middle East and South Asia. Uzbekistan has significant reserves of oil and gas resources, gold, uranium and other minerals, as well as a fast-growing population ready to develop this potential.

In Kazakhstan, which also has very significant economic and oil and gas resources, the ideas of radical Islam have not become widespread. Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, where the activities of radical Islamic groups are sometimes even more active, are not so attractive in terms of their economic and raw material potential.

During the rule of President S. Niyazov's regime, Turkmenistan was a country that was practically closed to the outside world, including radical Islamists-

page 16

user groups. Since 2007, the situation in Turkmenistan began to change due to the death of S. Niyazov. It is difficult to say how tightly President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov intends to control the activities of radical Islamists, but it is obvious that Turkmenistan can become a new "target" for ideologists of radical Islam.


In general, the increased attention of radical Islamists to the new states of Central Asia is quite understandable. However, in the vast expanse of post-Soviet Central Asia, there is a region (or, more precisely, a sub-region) where the activity of extremist Islamic organizations is particularly active - the Ferghana Valley.

Almost 12 million people live here - about 200 people per 1 sq. km8. According to this indicator, the valley ranks 10th in the world, and in the near future, taking into account the birth rate, it may enter the top five most densely populated regions of the earth9. This factor is compounded by common socio-economic problems in Central Asia (unemployment, poverty, low levels of education and medical care).

The Ferghana Valley includes seven regions belonging to three states: Kyrgyzstan (Osh, Batkent and Jalal-Abad regions), Tajikistan (Leninabad region) and Uzbekistan (Namangan, Andijan and Ferghana regions). Most of the valley's population is Uzbek. Thus, about one-third of the 25 million population of Uzbekistan, i.e. 8 million people, live in the Uzbek regions of Valley 10.

The mood of residents of the Ferghana Valley has been characterized by sharp opposition to any government for at least two decades. Thus, during the presidency of A. Akayev, a native of the northern part of Kyrgyzstan, the confrontation between Bishkek and the south of the country, with the Ferghana Valley, was particularly tense. But even now, when K. Bakiyev, who was born in the Jalal-Abad region, is in power, the Kyrgyz part of the valley is once again in opposition to the official government. In turn, the Leninabad region of the republic is considered the center of opposition to the President of Tajikistan E. Rakhmonov. And the long-standing confrontation between Tashkent and the Uzbek regions of the Ferghana Valley is well known today far beyond the borders of Central Asia in connection with the armed rebellion in Andijan in May 2005.

The complication of the situation in the Ferghana Valley is influenced by numerous problems tied in such a tight knot, when it is already difficult to dissect the cause and effect. These include territorial conflicts related to the demarcation of state borders that were previously internal and administrative, problems of "water and energy exchange" between the republics, and the resulting interethnic conflicts between Uzbeks, Kyrgyz and Tajiks.11

The above circumstances create favorable conditions for radical views to flourish in the Ferghana Valley, despite the fact that Islamic traditions have always been strong here. Thus, according to the Prosecutor General's Office of Kyrgyzstan alone, there are currently between 15 and 20 thousand members of religious extremist organizations in the valley.12

The idea of an Islamic caliphate is stimulated by the very geographical location of the mountain-enclosed valley, which makes it possible to form an independent state here. The valley is connected to the outside world by only a few roads passing through high mountain passes. It is no coincidence that during the riots in Andijan, Islamists intended to blow up the tunnel through the Kamchik Pass and cut off the Ferghana Valley from Tashkent.13


The first radical religious organizations appeared in Central Asia at the turn of the 1990s. During this period, several radical Islamic groups and movements showed themselves with varying degrees of activity. Among them, the most famous are: "Akromiya "(named after the founder of the organization "Akroma" Yuldashev), "Uzun Sokol" ("Long Beard"), "Adolat" ("Justice"), "Islom lashkarlali" ("Warriors of Islam"), "Tovba" ("Repentance"), " Nur " ("Light")14.

They operated mainly in the Ferghana Valley, but were also seen in a number of other regions of Uzbekistan - in Tashkent, Jizzakh and Surkhandarya regions. In 1990-1993, these groups held meetings, rallies, marches, promoting the idea of creating an Islamic state.

However, they did not have a significant impact on the internal policy of states due to the lack of a clear program of activities, insufficient funding and the general level of education, including theological education, among the leaders of the Islamists of the "first wave". As a result, by the mid-1990s, the activities of these organizations had come to naught.

The period of 1993-1997 was a time of radical transformation of the opposition to the government as a whole. There was a unification of the most active and ambitious opponents of the government around Islam. In 1998, the Islamic opposition-

page 17

The coalition moved to widespread agitation and promotion of radical Islamic ideas, distributing leaflets and turning prayers in mosques in the Ferghana Valley into political gatherings. Islamists criticized the most weak points of the government: cronyism, corruption, poverty of the population, arbitrariness of local leaders, as well as general economic policy.

The mid-1990s were marked by the emergence of radical Islamic organizations of the "second wave"in Central Asia. These were organizations of a completely different type, which differed from the associations of the early 1990s, first of all, by their international status, as well as the complete absence of democratic ideas and goals not only in their programs, but even in propaganda. These organizations are clearly focused on creating an Islamic caliphate. The most active groups in the Central Asian region are such radical groups as Hizb ut-Tahrir and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.

Hizb ut-Tahrir (Islamic Liberation Party) has been active in Central Asia since 1995.15 The Central Asian branch of Hizb ut-Tahrir is part of the world organization of the same name, established in 1953 in Jerusalem.

Hizb ut-Tahrir declares itself a political party whose ideology is Islam. The aim of the party's activities is to promote the return of Muslims to the Islamic way of life, namely, to strict observance of Sharia law, as well as to spread the Islamic faith.16 The realization of these goals is possible only by creating a single state that unites the entire Islamic world - the caliphate-and includes three stages.

At the first stage, the party core is formed, at the second stage, active interaction of party members with Muslim society takes place; the third stage will begin after the establishment of the Islamic state and will consist in communicating the idea of Islam to the rest of the world. 17

Hizb ut-Tahrir branches operate in Western Europe, Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, Kuwait, Palestine, Turkey, etc. In each of these countries, including the Central Asian states, the organization is characterized by a pyramidal structure, which implies division into regions, districts, and grassroots organizations.

The party's activities are financed mainly by its members, each of whom is required to contribute a certain amount to the party's budget on a monthly basis, depending on their income. Typically, the contribution is from 5 to 20% of income 18. At the same time, some of the funds come from the organization's central office in Jerusalem.

The main activity of Hizb ut-Tahrir is focused on propaganda forms of work: agitation using leaflets, religious literature, clandestine meetings, Friday prayers in unregistered mosques. However, the participation of supporters of the organization in the popular unrest in Andijan in 2005, as reported by official Uzbek sources, indicates that the party's leadership does not rule out an armed seizure of power.

The radical flank of the Islamic opposition in Central Asia is represented by the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. The organization's leaders openly declare that its goal is the violent creation of an Islamic caliphate centered in Uzbekistan.19

The organization was formed in the late 1990s. Its main forces were located on the territory of Tajikistan. IMU units received weapons and funding from the Tajik opposition, the Taliban (Afghanistan), as well as religious foundations and organizations in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

IMU's active activity began in 1997-1998. The IMU made its most serious appearance in February 1999, when it organized a series of terrorist attacks in Tashkent. During this period, the IMU detachments numbered about 1,000 fighters.20 The possibility of potential IMU reinforcements through Arab mercenaries, as well as Tajik opposition fighters and foreign fighters, should also have been taken into account.

page 18

the Taliban. Thus, by the end of the 1990s, the IMU was a fairly impressive force that should have been taken very seriously.

From the first manifestations of the IMU's activities in the region, the Uzbek leadership has taken decisive measures to stabilize the situation in the republic, prevent panic among the population and resolutely counteract extremists. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the actions of the leaders of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Largely due to their passivity, as well as the lack of coordination between the Kyrgyz, Tajik and Uzbek authorities, the IMU's activities in the region were so effective at that time.

In its actions, the IMU pursued a very definite goal - to break into the Ferghana Valley, where in the second half of the 1990s up to 40% of the population was sympathetic to the ideas of radical Islam21. The militants intended to establish control over the valley and declare an Islamic state on its territory.

And in 2001, there really was a real threat of large-scale actions of Islamists in Uzbekistan. At that time, the Afghan Taliban, having defeated the group of General Dostum, reached the border with Uzbekistan. In this regard, the IMU leaders, who were under the auspices of the Taliban, increasingly began to make statements about the imminent seizure of power in the republic.

In this situation, the US and NATO anti-terrorist operation in Afghanistan in 2001 was beneficial for Uzbekistan, as it diverted the IMU's attention from the implementation of its goals in the republic. During the operation, IMU fighters took an active part in the fighting on the side of the Taliban movement. One of the leaders of the IMU, D. Namangani, was appointed deputy to U. Bin Laden and the commander of the Taliban's northern Front22, he was killed in November 2002 during the Northern Alliance's battle to retake the city of Kunduz in northern Afghanistan.

After the end of the active phase of the operation in Afghanistan, the IMU militants, along with other surviving parts of the Taliban, preferred to abandon open confrontation and maintain combat-ready forces. In this regard, most of the militants are currently hiding in Tajikistan and Pakistan and are not taking active actions.

The Uzbek leadership has been harshly criticized by Western countries and has effectively been placed under a foreign policy blockade due to the decisive measures it took to curb the armed rebellion in Andijan in 2005. It remains indisputable that a large number of civilians took part in these demonstrations, and the authorities ' actions to stabilize the situation were quite severe. However, given that the popular unrest was largely instigated and supported by members of Hizbut-Tahrir, seems that the actions of the Uzbek leadership were consistent with the situation. Otherwise, the authorities ' inaction could have much more serious consequences not only for the entire Central Asian region.

At the same time, it is obvious that the strategy of countering the actions of radical Islamic groups in the Central Asian region should be radically changed. Given the socio-economic reasons for the emergence of Islamic radicalism in Central Asia and its support by a part of the population, it is clear that the fight against this phenomenon cannot always be based solely on the use of military force, since it often turns out that this force is used against the civilian population.

It is important to focus on analyzing the causes of the current situation in the region and address them. And this implies an early transition to real economic reforms that can change the socio-economic situation in the region, create new jobs and at least slightly raise the average standard of living of the population. Without solving these tasks, countering Islamic radicals is unlikely to be successful.

Closer cooperation between the Central Asian States and countries that are actually willing to invest significant financial resources in the region's economy can help achieve this goal. These are, first of all, members of such integration associations as the EurAsEC and the SCO.

Borisov 1 G. 17 especially dangerous // Rossiyskaya gazeta (Federal issue), N 4130, 28.07.06; Country reports on terrorism and patterns of global terrorism, 2006. Chapter 6. Terrorist organizations (materials of the US State Department) -

Farkhshatov M. 2 Muslim clergy // Islam in the former Russian Empire. Moscow, 1999, pp. 67-72.

Ermakov I. 3 Islam in the culture of Russia, Moscow, 2001, p. 434.

Prokudin M. 4 Modernizatsiya ili islamizatsiya [Modernization or Islamization] / / Expert Kazakhstan, No. 8 (PO), 26.02.07.

5 Islamic extremism and Fundamentalism as a Threat to Russia's National Security (RISI Scientific Report, general ed. Kozhokina E.). M " 1995, p. 14.

Todua Z. 6 Expansion of Islamists in the Caucasus and Central Asia. M " 2006, p. 76.

Lunev S. 7 Asiatic Center of the "Muslim arc" / / Otechestvennye zapiski, 2003, N 5 (14). Islam and Russia.

Glumskov D. 8 Gosudarstvo v gosudarstv [The State in States]. Expert, No. 39 (533), 23.10.06.

9 Ibid.

Glumskov D. 10 We only dream of peace // Expert Kazakhstan, N 40 (96), 30.10.06.

11 See for more details: Fayzullaev D. Uzbekistan-Kyrgyzstan: political and economic consequences of territorial problems / / Asia and Africa Today, 2005, N 7.

Glumskov D. 12 We only dream of peace...

Todua Z. 13 Edict. op.

14 Ibid.

15 Ibid.

16 Ibid.

17 Ibid.

18 Ibid.

The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU): history, financial base and military structure // Nezavisimaya Gazeta, 24.08.2000.

20 Ibid.

Glumskov D. 21 State in states...

Тодуа З. 22 Decree, Op.


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