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Research

Terrorist Organizations and Other Groups of Concern

Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU)

Updated August 24, 2007

From: "Chapter 8; Foreign Terrorist Organizations," Country Reports on Terrorism 2005, US Department of State, April 30, 2006.

Description
The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) is a group of Islamic militants from Uzbekistan and other Central Asian states. The IMU is affiliated with al-Qaida and, under the leadership of Tohir Yoldashev, has embraced Usama bin Ladin's anti-U.S., anti-Western agenda. The IMU also remains committed to its original goals of overthrowing Uzbekistani President Islam Karimov and establishing an Islamic state in Uzbekistan.

Activities
Since Operation Enduring Freedom, the IMU has been predominantly occupied with attacks on U.S. and Coalition soldiers in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Although it is difficult to differentiate between IMU and Islamic Jihad Group members, Pakistani security forces continue to arrest probable IMU operatives in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Suspected IMU members have also attacked Pakistani Government forces in the FATA and been discovered fighting Coalition forces in Afghanistan.

The IMU previously was active in terrorist operations in Central Asia. Tajikistan arrested several IMU members in 2005. In November 2004, the IMU was blamed for an explosion in the southern Kyrgyzstani city of Osh that killed one police officer and one terrorist. In May 2003, Kyrgyzstani security forces disrupted an IMU cell that was seeking to bomb the U.S. Embassy and a nearby hotel in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. The IMU was also responsible for explosions in Bishkek in December 2002 and Osh in May 2003 that killed eight people. The IMU primarily targeted Uzbekistani interests before October 2001, and is believed to have been responsible for several explosions in Tashkent in February 1999. IMU militants also took foreigners hostage in 1999 and 2000 in Kyrgyzstan, including four U.S. mountain climbers in August 2000 and four Japanese geologists and eight Kyrgyzstani soldiers in August 1999.

Strength
Approximately 500 members. Location/Area of Operation
IMU militants are scattered throughout South Asia, Central Asia, and Iran. Their area of operation includes Afghanistan, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan.

External Aid
The IMU receives support from a large Uzbek diaspora community and other Islamic extremist groups and patrons in the Middle East, Central Asia, and South Asia.