Terrorism Profiles

Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU)

Alternative Names:

IMU, O’zbekiston Islomiy Harakati

Location:

Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan (Shahi-Kot Valley), Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan (Federally Administered Tribal Areas)

Leadership:

IMU’s military leader and co-founder, Juma Namangani, a veteran mujahid of the Soviet war in Afghanistan, was killed in Afghanistan in 2001. Namangani’s successor, Tahir Yuldashev, was killed in 2009. In August 2012, leadership was transferred to Usman Ghazi.

Membership:

IMU originally recruited ethnic Uzbeks from among economically challenged and religiously persecuted youth in the Fergana Valley region. IMU’s membership has since expanded to include central Asians such as Afghans, Tajiks, Turkmens, Arabs, and Westerners.

Funding Sources:

In the late 1990s, the IMU received funding from Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and worked closely with the Taliban in Afghanistan. IMU currently generates funding from criminal activities, such as drug smuggling. IMU also maintains connections to al-Qaeda from which it derives funding. In 2015, IMU’s emir, Usman Ghazi, pledged allegiance to ISIS, from which IMU may be receiving funding.

Origins:

IMU, an Islamic terrorist organization, was founded in August 1998 by Tahir Yuldashev and Juma Namangani, both ethnic Uzbeks.

Major Attacks:

February 1999: IMU militants detonated six vehicle-borne explosive devices in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, which killed 16 people and injured over 120.

August 2000: IMU kidnapped and held hostage four American mountain climbers in the Karu-Su Valley of Kyrgyzstan. The climbers escaped.

2001 – Present: The IMU has carried out numerous attacks against U.S. and Coalition forces, and the U.S.-backed Northern Alliance, after the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

March-April 2004: IMU gunmen and female suicide bombers targeted Uzbek security forces in Tashkent, which killed 10 policemen and four civilians.

December 2011: An IMU suicide bomber killed 19 people at the funeral of an Afghan government official.

April 2012: IMU and Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants attacked Bannu Prison in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, freeing roughly 400 prisoners.

June 2014: The IMU, in concert with TTP militants, carried out an attack on Jinnah International Airport in Karachi, Pakistan, which killed 36 people, including the attackers, and injured 18 others.

Ideological Roots:

IMU traces its ideological roots to a radical interpretation of Sunni Islam and Pan-Islamism, which advocates the unity of all Muslims under one Islamic state or Caliphate based on Sharia law.

Objectives:

IMU’s original objective was to overthrow the Government of Uzbekistan and establish an Islamic state under Sharia law. It has since expanded in scope to include the expulsion of Western interests from the broader Middle East.

Tactics:

Suicide bombings, kidnappings, firearm attacks, low-intensity bomb attacks, and vehicle-borne explosive devices.

Updated on January 7, 2016.

References


  1. “Country Reports on Terrorism 2005.” US Department of State. Last modified April, 2006. Accessed December 26, 2015. http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/65462.pdf
  2. “Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan names Abu Usman as new leader.” Long War Journal. Last modified August, 2010. Accessed December 26, 2015. http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2010/08/islamic_movement_of_2.php
  3. “Tajikistan and Afghanistan.” Institute for the Study of War. Last modified 2015. Accessed December 26, 2015. http://www.understandingwar.org/tajikistan-and-afghanistan
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