TASHKENT, Uzbekistan - Islamist groups from Central Asia took heavy losses while fighting alongside the Taliban, but the remnants of those mini-armies have proved remarkably resilient in recent months and now appear to be regrouping with new recruits, new strategies and old terror money.
No longer secure in Afghanistan, hundreds of Uzbek, Tajik and Chinese militants have recently returned home. Analysts believe they are retrenching at their former camps and hide-outs, mostly in the rugged and unpoliced mountains of Tajikistan.
These fighters are being joined by waves of new recruits, most of whom were moderate Muslims until becoming radicalized by harsh religious crackdowns in Uzbekistan and China.
[. . .] Many of these fierce, fresh recruits also brandish a rising anti-U.S. anger caused by Washington's financial and diplomatic backing of Central Asia's repressive regimes, especially that of Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov. The United States operates an air base in the south of the country.
``My sons and their cellmates hate the U.S. for siding with Karimov,'' said a woman in Tashkent whose three sons are serving seven-year prison terms for distributing Islamist leaflets. She asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals by the SNB, the Uzbek secret police.
``All these boys think Bush is going against Islam. My sons were not violent; they just wanted to live a clean, Islamic life. But prison has hardened them. Karimov has hardened them. My oldest son now says he wants to die fighting for Allah.''
And then there's a bit about Hizb ut-Tahrir, which organization is described as "virulently anti-Semitic and anti-Western," and also mentioned are the recent attacks in Tashkent and Bukhara:
At least 48 people died in the chaotic and poorly planned attacks. One intelligence official said the attacks were of such ``low quality'' that they were ``unworthy'' of Al-Qaida and could only have been locally planned. Among the dead were 34 terrorists, all of them Uzbeks.
Which should just serve as background for this more commonly linked/discussed piece, Soros' foundation closes in Uzbekistan.
I fail to see how any of this helps the Bush
re-election effort, and instead see the sitch as further proof that the self-proclaimed "adults" are seriously out of their depth, but that's my answer to everything.