NEW MILITANT FORCE IN TAJIKISTAN?  Recent suicide bombing attributed to 
previously unknown Islamist group, but it’s unclear whether it exists.  By 
Tilav Rasulzoda, Parvina Khamidova

KAZAK LEADER LAYS GROUND FOR RE-ELECTION  Announcing he will stand for yet 
another term, President Nazarbaev acts to head off trouble on any front.  By 
Zarina Ahmatova

**** NEW 

LATEST PROJECT REVIEWS: http://iwpr.net/make-an-impact/project-reviews 

VACANCIES: http://iwpr.net/what-we-do/vacancies 


CENTRAL ASIA PROGRAMME HOME: http://www.iwpr.net/programme/central-asia 

CENTRAL ASIA RADIO: http://iwpr.net/programme/central-asia/central-asia-radio 



STORY BEHIND THE STORY: http://iwpr.net/report-news/the-story-behind-the-story 



**** http://iwpr.net/ **********************************************************

RSS FEEDS: http://iwpr.net/syndication/builder 

DONATE TO IWPR: http://iwpr.net/donate 

**** http://iwpr.net/ **********************************************************


Recent suicide bombing attributed to previously unknown Islamist group, but 
it’s unclear whether it exists.

By Tilav Rasulzoda, Parvina Khamidova

As prosecutors in the Soghd region of northern Tajikistan announce a series of 
arrests in connection with a suicide bombing last month, the identity of those 
behind the attack remains unclear. 

There are some suggestions they are linked to the Islamic Movement of 
Uzbekistan, IMU, a guerrilla group formerly active in Central Asia, while a 
number of analysts believe they are a home-grown group with specific local 

Soghd regional prosecutor Yusuf Rahmonov said 14 suspects were detained in an 
October 14 raid in the Istaravshan district north of the province’s main town 
Khujand; three others were arrested in September.

Four people died in the September 3 attack on the organised crime squad’s 
headquarters in Khujand– three police officers and the driver of the car packed 
with explosives – and 28 were injured.

It was the first recorded suicide bombing in Tajikistan.

Rahmonov said detonators and other bomb-making components were found when the 
home of one of those arrested was searched.

The authorities initially attributed the bombing to the IMU, an outlawed group 
which was carried out attacks in Central Asia in the late 1990s and is 
currently believed to have forces in northern Afghanistan close to the Tajik 

The IMU did not claim responsibility for the suicide bombing, although it did 
so for another recent attack in eastern Tajikistan which left 25 government 
soldiers dead on September 25. A recent IWPR report, Tajik Authorities Struggle 
to Quell Militants, assesses the likelihood that the ambush involved local 
Tajik militants, the IMU, or both.

Meanwhile, an apparently different group calling itself “Jamaat Ansarullah in 
Tajikistan” claimed responsibility for the suicide attack. The Kavkazcenter.com 
website, which acts as a mouthpiece for Islamic militants in Chechnya and other 
parts of the Russian North Caucasus, published a statement it said it received 
from the group.

In his October 14 briefing to journalists, Rahmonov announced that in the 
authorities’ view, Jamaat Ansarullah was a real group, and formed part of the 

However, at an October 20 news conference, Tajikistan’s interior minister 
Abdurahim Kakhorov toned down this view, saying it was possible Jamaat 
Ansarullah existed, but a full investigation would need to be carried out 
before anyone could be certain.

The suggestion that two local groups with IMU connections carried out attacks 
in the north and east of the country raises serious concerns about a possible 
resurgence in militant violence on a wider scale, 13 years after the end of 
Tajikistan’s civil war. Given the IMU’s close ties with the Taleban in 
Afghanistan and Pakistan, the risk that conflict could spill over into Central 
Asia is also one that analysts will be watching.

Another line of inquiry pursued by the Tajik police suggests that even if those 
behind the suicide attack were Islamic radicals, their immediate motives might 
have been more prosaic.

The day after the bomb went off, police in Soghd region said they believed it 
was in revenge for the arrest of four men for the August 30 murder of a local 
businessman, Homidjon Karimov. He came from the same village as them in the 
Isfara district and was killed, police said, because he had been funding their 
IMU cell but had decided to stop.

The suicide attack was intended either to help the five detainees escape or to 
warn investigators off pursuing the case, the police statement said.

But a police officer who requested anonymity cast doubt on the idea that the 
attack was merely retaliation or intimidation.

“The level of organisation behind this terrorist attack suggests that it was 
committed for more serious aims than revenge,” he told IWPR, adding that he had 
observed the IMU become more active in Kyrgyzstan as well as Tajikistan 
recently, and a wave off attacks designed to sow panic would fit this pattern.

The lack of publicly-available evidence about the case has resulted in much 
speculation about the bomber’s motives. A lawyer and a political analyst, for 
example, both told IWPR separately that the police might have been targeted 
because of the violence and injustices commonly meted out to people in 

Meanwhile, journalist Nurali Davlat, an expert on the 1992-97 civil war, 
questions whether the suicide bombing was the work of an organised group at 
all, and wonders whether it might have been carried out by a loner with mental 
health problems. He argues that it did not bear the usual hallmarks of suicide 
attacks elsewhere, where a video message recorded by the bomber beforehand is 
then used for propaganda purposes by the extremist group involved.

Other commentators, however, believe the attack was not isolated, but a sign of 
things to come. They see it as part of the same broad chain of events that 
included a mass jailbreak in August of 25 men convicted of various terror 
charges, and the ambush in the Rasht valley which killed troops sent to hunt 
down the escapees.

“This is only the beginning,” Bobojon Ikromov, editor-in-chief of the Varorud 
newspaper said. “If we don’t deal with it, the consequences will be 
regrettable. The Khujand blast, the Kamarob [ambush] and the Dushanbe escape 
show that the terrorists have declared war.”

Ikromov said the dire economic situation in Tajikistan created an environment 
in which such violence was possible. The actual method chosen – a suicide 
bombing – might have been inspired by media reports on similar attacks in 
Afghanistan, Pakistan and Europe.

In the end, though, “These terrible acts of terrorism are the work of our own 
citizens,” he said.

Tilav Rasulzoda is an IWPR-trained journalist. Parvina Hamidova is an IWPR 
editor in Tajikistan.

This article was produced jointly under two IWPR projects: Building Central 
Asian Human Rights Protection & Education Through the Media, funded by the 
European Commission; and the Human Rights Reporting, Confidence Building and 
Conflict Information Programme, funded by the Foreign Ministry of Norway.

The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of IWPR and can in no 
way be taken to reflect the views of either the European Union or the Foreign 
Ministry of Norway.


Announcing he will stand for yet another term, President Nazarbaev acts to head 
off trouble on any front.

By Zarina Ahmatova

With Kazakstan’s presidential election still two years away, the incumbent 
Nursultan Nazarbaev. Is already taking steps to ensure a trouble-free victory. 

Nazarbaev had previously left his intentions unclear, with occasional hints 
over the years that he might stand down in 2012.

On September 16, however, the president’s political advisor Yermuhamet 
Yertysbaev confirmed that Nazarbaev would indeed be running again, and that he 
had told him so in person.

In an interview for the Svoboda Slova newspaper, Yertysbaev noted that 
constitutional amendments passed in 2007 allow Nazarbaev to run for office an 
unlimited number of times.

The announcement put paid to speculation that Nazarbaev might be considering 
post-2012 options such as getting himself made “president for life”, or 
stepping down but continuing to run things behind the scenes. The latter 
scenario seemed a real possibility when a law awarding him lifelong status as 
“Leader of the Nation” came into force in June. This grants him considerable 
political authority, as well as immunity from prosecution, if and when he 
decides to stand down.

“There will be no referendum on extending his authority or on a lifetime 
presidency. Those are all just rumours,” Yertysbaev said.

Nazarbaev became Communist Party chief of Soviet Kazakstan in the late 1980s 
and was elected president after independence in 1991. A referendum in 1995 
extended this term, and he went on to win re-election in 1999 and 2005, the 
last time for an extended seven instead of five years.

Analysts say the president’s future is a key concern for the various political 
and business elite groups around him, who have an interest in shoring up their 
positions, and also in avoiding any risk that a succession process could lead 
to unrest similar to that experienced by neighbouring Kyrgyzstan, which has 
gone through chaotic regime-change twice in five years.

Even if it is now clear that Nazarbaev will stand and most likely win in 2012, 
options for the end of that term in office in 2017 are already being mulled 

Maxim Kaznacheev, head of domestic politics at the Institute for Political 
Solutions in Almaty, says Nazarbaev’s immediate circle wants him simply to be 
elected president again. The ruling Nur Otan party, meanwhile, backs the Leader 
of the Nation, scenario, where Nazarbaev would leave day-to-day government in 
the hands of a fairly noiminal head of state. Finally, according to Kaznacheev, 
the life presidency model is the brainchild of the Security Council, a powerful 
body that sets policy in key areas.

President Nazarbaev still seems to be one step ahead of the rival factions that 
surround him, making sure that none gains too much of a hold on power.

The appointment of a close ally, Nurtay Abykaev, as head of the National 
Security Committee or KNB in August, has been interpreted as one such move.

The intelligence and security chief is a key figure in government, and all the 
more so at a time when Kazakstan is not only heading towards an election but 
is, like many countries, being buffeted by global financial crisis.

Abykaev held the post a decade ago, and has since occupied a number of senior 
positions, most recently that of deputy foreign minister, and his reinstatement 
reflects his closeness to Nazarbaev.

“They are people of the same generation; they have worked together for many 
years and understand one another completely,” Mukhit Asanbaev, president of the 
Aspekt-M Centre for Social and Humanitarian Studies, said. “The generational 
thing is quite important.”

According to Marat Shibutov of the Association for Border Cooperation, 
Abykaev’s appointment is designed to checkmate one of the elite groups, with 
its power-base in the south of the country, that has been gaining ground 

Over the last couple of years, the “southerners” have won control of the KNB, 
the interior ministry, the prosecution service of financial police and 
prosecutor’s office. They include first deputy prime minister Umurzak Shukeev, 
whose name has been floated as a possible prime minister, even president.

“It looks like other elite groups and the president, too, have become concerned 
about this [dominance], and this has prompted the beginning of attacks on the 
southerners,” Shibutov said.

“Abykaev was brought back because the KNB had been weakened as an institution, 
and had come under the southerners’ control – something that could not be 
allowed to happen. The idea is that Abyklaev sorts out the KNB, brings it under 
the president’s control, and purges the most undesirable figures from the 
security agencies.”

Other powerful groups include one which is believed to be led by Nazarbaev’ 
son-in-law Timur Kulibaev, and to control many energy sector firms and 
Samruk-Kazyna, a corporation with a wide portfolio of companies. Then there is 
the “Eurasian Group”, led by businessman Alexander Mashkevich and exercising 
influence in northern Kazakstan.

Another elite grouping used to operate around Rahat Aliev, another Nazarbaev 
son-in-law, who fell from grace in 2007 and is now in exile, wanted by the 
Kazak authorities to face criminal charges. According to Shibutov, it was the 
dismantling of this group that allowed the southerners to move in and 
consolidate their position.

Apart from addressing matters of court politics, Abykaev’s appointment provides 
the president with a KNB chief he can rely on to deal with grassroots protests.

“When we speak about public protests we’re not just talking about the 
activities of the [political] opposition forces,” said Aydos Sarimov, head of a 
foundation named after murdered politician Altynbek Sarsenbaev. “In my view, 
the current opposition doesn’t present the biggest danger for the authorities… 
some of the protesters don’t want to associate themselves with the opposition.” 
(For one recent attempt by the political opposition to curb Nazarbaev, see 
Opposition to Challenge Kazak Leader.)

In the couple of years since the economic crisis hit home, there have been 
protests across Kazakstan by groups as diverse as investors in failed 
companies, mortgage-payers in difficulty, oil industry workers, farmers and 
market traders.

In one recent incident in mid-September, six Chinese workers were taken to 
hospital after a brawl with Kazaks at an oil and gas field in the western 
Aktobe region. Analysts say relations between the two groups had been tense for 
some time because of local perceptions that the foreigners were getting better 
pay and working conditions.

Zarina Akhmatova is a journalist in Kazakstan.

This article was produced jointly under two IWPR projects: Building Central 
Asian Human Rights Protection & Education Through the Media, funded by the 
European Commission; and the Human Rights Reporting, Confidence Building and 
Conflict Information Programme, funded by the Foreign Ministry of Norway.

The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of IWPR and can in no 
way be taken to reflect the views of either the European Union or the Foreign 
Ministry of Norway.

**** http://iwpr.net/ **********************************************************

REPORTING CENTRAL ASIA provides the international community with a unique 
insiders' perspective on the region. Using our network of local journalists, 
the service publishes news and analysis from across Central Asia on a weekly 

The service forms part of IWPR's Central Asia Project based in Almaty, Bishkek, 
Tashkent and London, which supports media development and encourages better 
local and international understanding of the region.

IWPR's Reporting Central Asia is supported by the UK Community Fund. The 
service is published online in English and Russian. 

The opinions expressed in Reporting Central Asia are those of the authors and 
do not necessarily represent those of the publication or of IWPR.

REPORTING CENTRAL ASIA: Editor-in-Chief: Anthony Borden; Managing Editor: Yigal 
Chazan; Senior Editor and Acting Central Asia Director: John MacLeod; Central 
Asia Editor: Saule Mukhametrakhimova.

IWPR PROJECT DEVELOPMENT AND SUPPORT: Executive Director: Anthony Borden; Head 
of Programmes: Sam Compton.

**** http://iwpr.net/ **********************************************************

IWPR gives voice to people at the frontlines of conflict, crisis and change. 
From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, IWPR helps people in the world's most challenging 
environments have the information they need to drive positive changes in their 
lives — holding government to account, demanding constructive solutions, 
strengthening civil society and securing human rights. Amid war, dictatorship, 
and political transition, IWPR builds the level of public information and 
responsible debate. IWPR forges the skills and capacity of local journalism, 
strengthens local media institutions and engages with civil society and 
governments to ensure that information achieves impact.

IWPR - Europe, 48 Gray’s Inn Road, London WC1X 8LT, UK
Tel: +44 20 7831 1030

IWPR – United States, 1325 G Street, NW, Suite 500, Washington, DC 20005, 
United States
Tel: +1 202 449 7717

1515 Broadway, 11th Floor, New York, New York 10036, United States
Tel: +1 212 520 3950

Stichting IWPR Nederland, Eisenhowerlaan 77 K, 2517 KK Den Haag, The Netherlands
Tel: +31 70 338 9016

For further details on this project and other information services and media 
programmes, go to: http://iwpr.net/

ISSN: 1477-7924 Copyright © 2009 The Institute for War & Peace Reporting 

**** http://iwpr.net/ **********************************************************

This electronic mail message and any attached files are intended solely for the 
named recipients and may contain confidential and proprietary business 
information of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting (IWPR) and its 
affiliates. If you are not the named addressee, you should not disseminate, 
distribute or copy this e-mail.

Institute for War & Peace Reporting. 48 Gray's Inn Road, London WC1X 8LT, UK. 
Registered with charitable status in the United Kingdom (charity reg. no: 
1027201, company reg. no: 2744185); the United States under IRS Section 
501(c)(3);  The Netherlands as a charitable foundation; and South Africa under 
Section 21.

Reply via email to