Hizb ut-Tahrir: KGB-FSB Connection?

By:  William F. Jasper
Hizb ut-Tahrir: KGB-FSB Connection?

As reported in yesterday's posting, the Islamist group, Hizb ut-Tahrir al Islami (The Islamic Liberation Party, hereafter designated by the abbreviation HT), held a recruiting conference in Chicago on Sunday July 19. The title and theme of the conference was "The Fall of Capitalism, the Rise of Islam."

Unlike the Baltic States and other European states that were clamoring for independence from the Soviet Union, the rulers of the Central Asian states (Uzbekistan, Tajikstan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan) of the USSR were reluctant to shed their Soviet skin, and even since "independence" have stayed closely tied to the Kremlin. Like all totalitarian regimes — Russia, China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria — they remain, essentially, black boxes, largely impervious to outside investigation. Their geographic isolation greatly enhances the efficiency of their security services in controlling what information (or disinformation) gets out, which outsiders get in, and what they will be allowed to see and hear.

Uzbekistan seems to be the main area where terrorist activities are attributed to HT and other groups connected to it, such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU). As mentioned in yesterday's posting, scholar/lobbyist Zeyno Baran has been one of the principal conveyor belts of the charges that the Tashkent bombings of 1999, the Tashkent and Bukhara bombings of 2004, and the Andijan Massacre of 2005 were the work of Islamic terrorists (HT and IMU) and provide ample reason to support the regime of Stalinist stalwart Islam Karimov in Uzbekistan.

Bush administration officials, such as Elizabeth Jones, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for Europe and Eurasia, made similar arguments, as for instance, in her testimony before Congress.

Another analyst, David Storobin similarly concluded that the Karimov regime was under heavy assault from terrorists, which was a major crisis blocking political reform in that country. He wrote:

Because of the terror network that has been established by the Taliban, Saudis, Egyptian and Palestinian fundamentalists, as well as others in Uzbekistan, the government cannot move towards democratic liberalization. Rather than building up its political institutions and economic system, Uzbekistan is stuck trying to fight terrorist organizations, such as Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan — and any other Islamist terrorist organization that chooses to set up bases in the country.

Perhaps the most influential lobbyist for the Central Asian regimes, though, is Professor S. Frederick Starr of the Central Asia Caucasus Institute (CACI) at Johns Hopkins University. For his slavish support of dictator Islam Karimov, Dr. Starr has earned the title of "Professor of Repression." He can be counted on faithfully to toe the party line, sing the praises of Karimov and his fellow dictators in the region, and defend the most brutal practices as necessary measures against the threat of "Islamic extremism."

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