Global Jihad? Islamist riots in Uzbekistan leave 500 dead spreads across Central Asia- protests continue throughout Muslim world
Hizb ut Tahrir - An emerging threat to U.S. interests in Central Asia
MIM: Muslims have been waging Jihad against the West for decades. As Dr.Daniel Pipes pointed out in 1995 in his book "Militant Islam Reaches America"; "Unnoticed by most Westerners, war has been unilaterally declared against the United States". The ongoing Jihad of over a decade appears to be accelerating as violence directed against America and it's interests spreads throughout the Muslim world.
The riots in Uzbekistan are directed at a US ally president Islam Karimov, who has permitted an American military presence in Uzbekistan and were orchestrated by Hizb ut Tahrir (The Party of Liberation). http://www.hizb-ut-tahrir.org/english/homea.html
In 2003 Ariel Cohen wrote in a study entitled Hizb ut Tahrir : An emerging threat to U.S. interests in Central Asia, that:
"...Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami (Islamic Party of Liberation) is an emerging threat to American interests in Central and South Asia and the Middle East. It is a clandestine, cadre-operated, radical Islamist political organization that operates in 40 countries around the world, with headquarters apparently in London. Its proclaimed goal is jihad against America and the overthrow of existing political regimes and their replacement with a Caliphate (Khilafah in Arabic), a theocratic dictatorship based on the Shari'a (religious Islamic law). The model for Hizb is the "righteous" Caliphate, a militaristic Islamic state that existed in the 7th and 8th centuries under Mohammad and his first four successors, known as the "righteous Caliphs."
The September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks taught the United States a painful lesson--that it must be alert to emerging threats, including terrorism and other destabilizing activities against its military assets, citizens, and allies. Some of these emerging threats, combined with the actions of terrorist jihadi organizations, such as al-Qaeda, may also generate political instability in key geographic areas and threaten friendly regimes. In Central Asia, the security situation has deteriorated because the war against Saddam Hussein's regime has intensified the resolve of anti-American forces already active in the region.1..." (see complete article below).http://www.heritage.org/Research/RussiaandEurasia/BG1656.cfm
MIM:The latest calls for Jihad in the Muslim world, which began in Afghanistan spread to Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Gaza. The riots were sparked by an unsubstantiated report in Newsweek magazine article by Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball, that a Koran had been stuffed down a toilet at Gitmo by American investigators. It has been revealed, but not confirmed that the report actually pertained to the actions of a Muslim prisoner, who was cited as ripping out pages of the Koran to clog up a toilet . Even after the truth came out, riots continued to spread across the Muslim world as clerics called for attacks against America and Muslim men announced they wanted to carry out suicide attacks. http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/607
Radical Muslims in Uzbekistan attacked a prison and released men who had been arrested for helping Muslim extremists and believed to be linked to the group Hizb Ut Tahrir. (Last year suicide bombers believed to be connected to the group attacked the American and Israeli consulates in Uzbekistan). The American backed goverment of president Islam Karimov's efforts to crack down on Islamist radicals had been undermined by Western civil rights groups who demanded the US stop what it considered heavy handed treatment of arrested extremists .Rioting followed which has resulted in hundreds dead, and fears that the entire Central Asian region is becoming a war zone.
Uzbek president blames Islamic militants - violence flares at border
VIOLENCE CONTINUES: Thousands of Uzbeks trying to flee into Kyrgyzstan following a day of massive protests burned a government building and attacked border guards.
ANDIJAN, Uzbekistan -- Thousands of terrified Uzbeks tried to flee into Kyrgyzstan yesterday, burning a government building and attacking border guards on the second day of violence that witnesses said has left 200 people dead.
"... Among those freed were the 23 members of the Akramia Islamic group, who were on trial on charges of being members of an organization allied with the outlawed radical Islamic party Hizb-ut-Tahrir. It seeks to create a worldwide Islamic state and has been forced underground throughout most of Central Asia and Russia..."
Uzbekistan on the brink as clashes spread
As human rights workers in the flashpoint town of Andijan warned that the death toll there could reach 500, an official from the neighbouring country of Kyrgyzstan said sporadic rioting had broken out in the border town of Karasu, with government buildings and police cars on fire and military helicopters circling overhead.
One local official was reported by the Russian Interfax news agency to have been heavily beaten by rioters. The Uzbek President, Islam Karimov, claimed that troops had opened fire on protesters in Andijan only when they were advanced on.
Visibly angry, he told reporters in the capital, Tashkent: 'I know that you want to know who gave the order to fire at them ... No one ordered [the troops] to fire at them.' He said 10 soldiers were killed in the clash and 'many more' protesters.
Galima Bukharbaeva, a reporter with international monitoring group the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, who witnessed the killings, described a column of armoured personnel carriers firing indiscriminately and unprovoked at protesters.
They had stormed the city prison after 23 businessmen were put on trial for alleged Islamic extremism. They took over the local administration centre and blockaded the city centre, some demanding that the government resign.
Karimov responded: 'To accept their terms would mean that we are setting a precedent that no other country in the world would accept.' He dismissed claims that children had been among the dead. 'In Uzbekistan, nobody fights against women, children or the elderly,' he added.
Among those who hurriedly left the city were seven British tennis players due to take part in the F4 Futures Event. Information was scarce inside Andijan, with most phone lines blocked as part of an apparent news blackout in the region. Human rights worker Lutfulla Shamsutdinov told Agence France-Presse yesterday: 'This morning I saw three trucks and a bus in which 300 dead bodies were being loaded by soldiers. At least one third of the bodies were women.' The claims were impossible to verify.
One witness said that he saw 1,000 people, mostly women and children, gathering in the city centre yesterday morning. 'Some were bringing their dead. Many of them were old people or women, some were throwing stones at the soldiers. I saw over 20 dead, but someone told me they had seen many more piled up near the central square.'
A reporter for Associated Press said that he saw 30 bodies on streets spattered with blood and littered with spent cartridges. The dead had all been shot and the head of one had been smashed in.
Daniyar Akbarov, 24, one of those freed from jail on Friday, tearfully beat his chest in the square yesterday. 'Our women and children are dying,' he said, claiming he had seen 300 people killed.
The military claimed to control the town last night. The news website www. ferghana.ru reported dozens of flights arriving at an airport in the region, suggesting extra troops were being flown in.
As the violence continued to spread, Russian President Vladimir Putin phoned his Uzbek counterpart. 'Both sides expressed concern about the danger of destabilisation of the situation in the Central Asian region,' a Kremlin statement said.
On Friday night, the United States raised fears that members of a 'terrorist group' may have been released from prison during the riots, but urged both sides to show restraint. The former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, who claims that he lost his job for exposing the human rights abuses of the US's new ally in the war on terror, said the Islamic elements in the Andijan crowds were moderate - 'more Turkey than Taliban'.
He added: 'This has really blown up in the US's faces. When will the US and UK call for fair, free and early elections in Uzbekistan?'
America gives $10 million a year in aid to the Uzbek security services and police, agencies which it says indulge in torture as a 'routine investigation technique'. Murray said: 'The US will claim that they are teaching the Uzbeks less repressive interrogation techniques, but that is basically not true.
'They help fund the Uzbek security services and give tens of millions of dollars in military support as well.' He said the money was a 'sweetener' in return for the Uzbeks allowing the US to have an airbase in the southern town of Khanabad, vital for operations in neighbouring Afghanistan.
Russian state television carried comments from politicians and analysts, saying the unrest was a 'green revolution' - a suggestion that it was an Islamic fundamentalist revolt. A junior foreign minister said the unrest was caused by 'the weakness of the authorities, social problems and the influence of extremist groups'.
Officials from neighbouring Kyrgyzstan said that hundreds of refugees had tried to cross the border.
Uzbekistan 'on brink of revolution'
Moscow, May 15. (Observer News Service): The violence that has reportedly killed hundreds of protesters in eastern Uzbekistan appeared to be spreading Saturday night to neighbouring towns, raising fears that the volatile Central Asian state could erupt into revolution.
As human rights workers in the flashpoint town of Andijan warned the death toll there could reach 500, an official from the neighbouring country of Kyrgyzstan said sporadic rioting had broken out in the border town of Karasu, with government buildings and police cars on fire and military helicopters circling overhead.
Reports circulated on Saturday that hundreds of protesters had been killed in the violence in Andijan.
The Uzbek President, Islam Karimov, claimed that his troops had opened fire on protesters in the town only when they were advanced on.
Visibly angry, he told reporters in the capital, Tashkent: "I know that you want to know who gave the order to fire at them ... No one ordered (troops) to fire at them." He said ten soldiers were killed in the clash and `many more' protesters.
The protesters had stormed the city prison after 23 local businessmen were put on trial for alleged extremism. They took over the local administration and blockaded the city centre, some demanding that the government resign.
Karimov said: "To accept their terms would mean that we are setting a precedent that no other country in the world would accept."
He countered claims that children had been among the dead. "In Uzbekistan, nobody fights against women, children or the elderly," he added.
Information was scarce inside Andijan, with most phone lines blocked as part of an apparent news blackout in the region.
One witness said he saw a thousand people, mostly women and children, gathering in the centre of the city yesterday morning.
One reporter for Associated Press said that he saw thirty bodies among streets spattered with blood and littered with spent cartridges. The dead had all been shot and the head of one had been smashed in.
The military claimed to control the town, though a resident told Interfax the centre was still blockaded.
Riot troops were still massed within the city limits. The website ferghana.ru reported dozens of flights arriving at an airport in the region, suggesting extra troops were being flown in.
As the violence continued to spread, Russian President Vladimir Putin rang his Uzbek counterpart. "Both sides expressed concern about the danger of destabilisation of the situation in the Central Asian region," a Kremlin statement said.
On Friday night the United States raised fears that members of a 'terrorist group' may have been released from prison during the riots, but urged both sides to show restraint. The EU said the government's human rights record and disregard for poverty were to blame.
Russian state television carried comments from politicians and analysts saying the unrest was a 'green revolution' - a suggestion that it was an Islamic fundamentalist revolt.
A junior Foreign Minister said the unrest was caused by 'the weakness of the authorities, social problems and the influence of extremist groups'.
Neighbouring Kyrgyzstan, whose authoritarian government was ousted by a revolution that began just below Andijan in the country's south-west, said that hundreds of refugees had tried to cross the border.
The Kyrgyz Security Council Secretary, Miroslav Niyazov, told Interfax up to 6,000 had tried to get into Kyrgyzstan but were now gathered along the border, where they were being given humanitarian help, including tents in which to take shelter.
Karimov says riots orchestrated by Islamists to topple regime
MOSCOW: An Islamist extremist group was behind the riots staged in Uzbekistan's eastern city of Andijan on Thursday and Friday, the country's President Islam Karimov said on Saturday after troops dispersed the rebels and restored control over Andijan.
Mr. Karimov told a press conference after returning from Andijan to the capital Tashkent that the unrest had been planned by Islamist militants linked with the banned Hizb ut-Tahrir movement, who wanted to replay the Kyrgyz scenario of overthrowing the Government in March.
"The scenario was identical, they wanted to repeat the coup in Kyrgyzstan," Mr. Karimov said. "However, their plan has fallen through."
The Uzbek leader said the leaders of the uprising had placed calls to Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan. He personally negotiated with them and said they had demanded the release of Hizb ut-Tahrir leaders from Uzbek prisons.
"The political demands made by the criminals have never been and will never be acceptable to us," Mr. Karimov said.
According to Mr. Karimov, the Islamists had counted on the weakness of the Central Government and on the support of the population, but failed to see the difference between the situation in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.
Andijan was reported generally quiet on Saturday after troops stormed a local administration building seized by rebels on Friday night. Eye-witnesses saw dozens of bodies lying in streets. Local doctors said clinics were crowded by wounded people.
Mr. Karimov confirmed the death of nine police and army officers when rebels attacked a traffic police post and an army barracks on Thursday night before freeing hundreds of prisoners from a local jail.
Mr. Karimov called Russia's President Vladimir Putin on Saturday to discuss the situation in Uzbekistan.
Hizb ut Tahrir - Utopia or Intolerance ?
By Jeffrey Young
Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami seeks what some call a utopian dream - a single Islamic state sweeping across the Middle East and Central Asia, headed by a Caliph who would rule solely by the writings of the Holy Q'uran. The roughly 50-year-old group says it wants to accomplish this not through violence but rather what it calls peaceful "enlightenment" of Muslims. But others contend that its beliefs are so intolerant of non-Muslims and the secular world that terrorism may be the end result.
As for how many people belong to Hizb ut-Tahrir, Heritage Foundation scholar Ariel Cohen estimates that as many as 10,000 active members and many more supporters may be spread from Europe through Turkey, the Middle East, Central Asia and east to Indonesia. The group is well established in Uzbekistan, where the government has jailed and harassed its followers. Others have placed total membership closer to twenty thousand.
David Lewis, with the International Crisis Group in London, explains why reestablishing the Caliphate is an important symbol and goal for Hizb ut-Tahrir. "It would give Muslims back a sense of pride, a sense of power in the world and counter this Muslim idea of powerlessness in the face of what they see as western hegemony," he says.
Jim Phillips with the Washington-based Heritage Foundation says such beliefs create conditions for confrontation and possibly terrorism. "They define themselves as carrying out God's will on earth," he says. "And then by definition, if you disagree with them, you therefore are obstructing God's will and that opens up the potential for violence."
Hizb ut -Tahrir has not been proven to have involvement in or direct links to any recent acts of violence or terrroism. Nor has it been proven to give financial support to other groups engaged in terrorism. Because of that, it falls outside the definitions used by the United States and others to designate a terrorist group. Michael O'Hanlon, with the Washington-based Brookings Institution, explains why those strict definitions could be reconsidered in this case. "I'm not sure we should give this group any kind of a 'free pass.' Hateful speech that inspires or condones terrorism is itself terroristic."
David Lewis at the International Crisis Group says he believes Hizb ut-Tahrir should not be labeled terrorist. But he does say the United States and other countries should step up intelligence gathering and close surveillance. "This group is important to take note of and keep a very good eye on," he says, "because there is a potential for some of its members to move on to more radical groups or indeed for splinter groups to come out of that group."
Mr. Lewis and others who monitor Hizb ut-Tahrir have put forth recommendations they say are needed to prevent it and similar groups from expanding and/or turning violent. A major proposal is for the United States and other powers to champion human rights and political and religious freedoms, especially in regions where governments are restrictive. Another is encouraging economic development so that people do not turn to radicalism out of anger and frustration. These observers warn that to do anything less may enable Hizb ut-Tahrir to take over a vulnerable nation, which then could become a base for widespread terror.
Hizb ut Tahrir : An emerging to U.S. interests in Central Asia
by Ariel Cohen
Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami (Islamic Party of Liberation) is an emerging threat to American interests in Central and South Asia and the Middle East. It is a clandestine, cadre-operated, radical Islamist political organization that operates in 40 countries around the world, with headquarters apparently in London. Its proclaimed goal is jihad against America and the overthrow of existing political regimes and their replacement with a Caliphate (Khilafah in Arabic), a theocratic dictatorship based on the Shari'a (religious Islamic law). The model for Hizb is the "righteous" Caliphate, a militaristic Islamic state that existed in the 7th and 8th centuries under Mohammad and his first four successors, known as the "righteous Caliphs."
The September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks taught the United States a painful lesson--that it must be alert to emerging threats, including terrorism and other destabilizing activities against its military assets, citizens, and allies. Some of these emerging threats, combined with the actions of terrorist jihadi organizations, such as al-Qaeda, may also generate political instability in key geographic areas and threaten friendly regimes. In Central Asia, the security situation has deteriorated because the war against Saddam Hussein's regime has intensified the resolve of anti-American forces already active in the region.1
The United States has important national security interests at stake in Central Asia, including access to the military bases used to support operations in Afghanistan, preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and technologies for their production, and securing access to natural resources, including oil and gas. The U.S. is also committed to spreading democracy, promoting market reforms, and improving human rights standards in the vast heartland of Eurasia.
Therefore, to prevent Hizb ut-Tahrir from destabilizing Central Asia and other areas, the U.S. should expand intelligence collection on Hizb. The U.S. should encourage Central Asian governments to pursue reforms that will expand civil society and diminish the alienation on which Hizb and fundamentalist Islamist movements are preying. Specifically, the U.S. should condition security assistance on economic reform, encourage democracy and popular participation, discredit radical Islamist movements, and support religious and political moderation and pluralism.
Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami is an emerging threat to American interests and the countries in which it operates. It has 5,000-10,000 hard-core members, and many more supporters in former Soviet Central Asia (e.g., Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan), and is expanding its operations to oil-rich Kazakhstan. Over 10,000 members are active in Pakistan, Syria, Turkey, and Indonesia.2 At least 500 are already behind bars in Uzbekistan alone, and hundreds are in custody in the Middle East.3 By breeding violent anti-American attitudes, attempting to overthrow existing regimes, and preparing cadres for more radical Islamist organizations, Hizb poses a threat to U.S. interests in Central Asia and elsewhere in the Islamic world where moderate regimes are found.
Sheikh Taqiuddin an-Nabhani al Falastini, the founder of Hizb, has written that every Muslim should strive to establish a Caliphate and that this religious imperative (fard) upon the Muslim nation (Umma) is so strong that Mohammad's close allies delayed burying his body until a new Caliph was appointed and the Caliphate established.4 The Caliphate would be led by a Caliph: a supreme, pious leader who would combine religious and political power.5
A Caliph, an-Nabhani believes, is a substitute for Mohammad as both political and religious leader. The Caliph would appoint an Amir, or military leader, who would declare jihad and wage war against all non-believers, including the United States. According to Hizb's political vision, such an entity, if established, would not recognize existing national, regional, tribal, or clan differences and would include all Muslims.
An-Nabhani has drafted the constitution of this future Caliphate. It is not the constitution of a democratic state. The Caliph would be appointed by acclamation by "prominent men," with male voters casting a vote of approval. The ruler would not be directly accountable to the people, and there would be no checks or balances between branches of government. Succession would be by designation of the Caliph or acclamation of the oligarchy.
Thus, Hizb explicitly rejects democracy. In fact, one of an-Nabhani's books is titled Democracy: The Law of Infidels.6 Yet some regional observers have called for the legitimization of Hizb and its integration into the existing political model.7 In doing so, they ignore the obvious--Hizb's goal is to smash the existing state apparatus, not to become a player within it.
Radical Islamic Roots
An-Nabhani, who was serving at the time on the Islamic appellate court in Jerusalem, was an associate and contemporary of Hajj Amin's.10 He also drew on the organizational principles of Marxism-Leninism, which were quite well-known among the middle- and upper-class Arabs in British Mandate Palestine. Khaled Hassan, one of the founders of the Fatah faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization, was also among the founders of Hizb ut-Tahrir, as was Sheikh Asaad Tahmimi, who became Islamic Jihad's spiritual leader.11 Hizb supported the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1991 and backs the Islamic Salvation Front of Algeria, a radical movement on the U.S. State Department's terrorism list.12
An-Nabhani was also member of the radical Islamic Brotherhood (Al Ihwan al-Muslimeen), a secretive international fundamentalist organization founded in Egypt in 1928, which spread throughout the Islamic world and preaches the establishment of a Caliphate. He joined the Brotherhood while studying in Cairo's Al-Azhar University but later left the Brotherhood because he considered it too soft.13 It is likely that Hizb was supported initially by the Saudi-based radical Islamist Wahhabi movement, although the extent to which that support continues today is unclear.14
Hizb ut-Tahrir's spread around the globe, in Western Europe and often in authoritarian states with strong secret police organizations, is impressive. It could be accomplished only by applying 20th century totalitarian political "technology" melded with Islamic notions of the 7th and 8th centuries, as interpreted by medieval Islamic scholars. The genius of Hizb founder an-Nabhani was marrying Orthodox Islamist ideology to Leninist strategy and tactics.
The Leninist Model
When a critical mass of cells is achieved, according to its doctrine, Hizb may move to take over a country in preparation for the establishment of the Caliphate. Such a takeover would likely be bloody and violent. Moreover, its strategy and tactics show that, while the party is currently circumspect in preaching violence, it will justify its use--just as Lenin and the Bolsheviks did--when a critical mass is achieved.17
Hizb's platform and actions fit in with "Islamist globalization"--an alternative mode of globalization based on radical Islam. This ideology poses a direct challenge to the Western model of a secular, market-driven, tolerant, multicultural globalization.18
Where radicalization has taken hold in the Islamic world, Hizb has gained new supporters in droves. It operates clandestinely in over 40 countries around the world, with members organized in cells of five to eight members each. Only a cell commander knows the next level of leadership, ensuring operational security. "Representatives" in Great Britain and Pakistan claim to speak for the organization but have no official address or legal office. Leadership for large regions (e.g., the former Soviet Union), countries, and local areas is kept secret.
Hizb's primary characteristics include the fiery rhetoric of jihad, secret cells and operations, murky funding sources, rejection of existing political regimes, rapid transnational growth, and outlook and goals that are shared with al-Qaeda and other organizations of the global jihadi movement.
In documents drafted before 9/11, Hizb leaders accused the United States of imposing hegemony on the world. After 9/11, Hizb claimed that the U.S. had declared war against the global Muslim community (Umma), had established an international alliance under the "pretext" of fighting terrorism, and was reinforcing its grip on the countries of Central Asia. Hizb further claimed that the U.S. accused Osama bin Laden of being responsible for the 9/11 attacks "without any evidence or proof."
The party attempted to use its influence by calling upon all Muslim governments to reject the U.S. appeal for cooperation in the war against terrorism.20 It called for expulsion of U.S. and Western citizens, including Western diplomats, from countries in which it will take power and shredding diplomatic treaties and agreements with Western governments. It further declared:
Muslims! You are religiously obliged to reject this American question which takes you lightly and despises you. America does not have the sublime values that entitle it to tell you what to support and whom to fight against. You possess a divine mission. You are the ones to bring guidance and light to mankind. God described you with the following words: "You are the best people brought forth for the benefit of mankind. You enjoin good and forbid evil. And you believe in God."
As for Jihad...it is legal, in fact it is an obligation, it is the apex of Islamic ethics, as Almighty God says, "Keep in store for them whatever you are capable of, force and equipment with which you can frighten those who are enemies of God and enemies of yourselves...." God's Messenger (Mohammed) said, "Islam is the head, prayer is the backbone and Jihad is the perfection."
Muslims! The law of religion does not allow you to give to America what it is trying to impose upon you. You are not allowed to follow its orders or to provide it with any assistance whatsoever, no matter whether it be intelligence or facilities of using your territory, your air space or your territorial waters. It is not permissible to cede military bases to the Americans, nor it is allowed to coordinate any military activities with them or to collaborate with them. It is not allowed to enter into an alliance with them or to be loyal to them, because they are enemies of Islam and Muslims. God said, "Believers, Do not befriend my enemy and your enemy.... They have rejected the truth that has come to you."21
In a June 2001 article published in the party's journal, Hizb ideologists claim that all methods are justified in the struggle against the unbelievers, including murder. They specifically mention that a pilot's diving a plane hit by enemy fire into a crowd of unbelievers without bailing out with a parachute is a legitimate form of armed struggle. Hizb also demands that Muslims come to the support of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.22
[T]he war waged by America, the head of Kufr, and Britain and their allies from the Kafir states on Afghanistan is a crusade.... What America and Britain are doing is displaying their enmity for the Islamic Ummah. They are enemies; a state of war exists between them and all the Muslims that necessitates adopting an actual state of war as a basis for dealing with them according to the dictates of the Shari'ah rules. That position should be adopted with them and all those who ally themselves with them in their war against the Muslims.23
The war of America and her allies against Islam and the Muslims has shown the corrupt nature of her civilization and her colonial world-view. The War on Iraq...has demonstrated that America and her allies only strive to colonize and plunder the resources of the Islamic world, not to bring about justice and security.... America is intending to deceive you.... [S]he is inherently weak as her ideology is false and corrupt.... The time has come for Islam not just in Iraq but in this entire Ummah. It is time for the Islamic State (Khilafah) to lead the world and save the world from the crimes and oppression of the capitalist system.24
According to one of the Hizb Central Asian leaders, "we are very much opposed to the Jews and Israel.... Jews must leave Central Asia. The United States is the enemy of Islam with the Jews."25
Anti-Americanism, extremism, and preaching the violent overthrow of existing regimes make Hizb ut-Tahrir a prime suspect in the next wave of violent political action in Central Asia and other Muslim countries with relatively weak regimes, such as Pakistan and Indonesia.
Stages of Struggle, Jihad, and Violence
In the past, members of Hizb participated in coups against pro-Western regimes in the Middle East, such as the failed 1968 officers' coup against King Hussein II of Jordan.27 Despite its authoritarian and highly disciplined cadre structure, Hizb claimed that members who participated in the coup did so in an "individual capacity." However, more recently, Hizb representatives, together with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, participated in coordination meetings sponsored by al-Qaeda in the Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.
Jihad has to continue till the Day of Judgment. So whenever disbelieving enemies attack an Islamic country it becomes compulsory on its Muslim citizens to repel the enemy. The members of Hizb ut-Tahrir in that country are part of the Muslims and it is obligatory upon them as [it] is upon other Muslims (not resident in that country) in their capacity as Muslims, to fight the enemy and expel them. Whenever there is a Muslim amir who declares jihad to enhance the Word of Allah and mobilizes the people to do that, the members of Hizb ut-Tahrir will respond in their capacity as Muslims in the country where the general call to arms was proclaimed.28
At this time, Hizb ut-Tahrir aims to seize power and supplant existing governments in Central Asia and elsewhere with an Islamist version based on Shari'a for the purpose of jihad against the West, which includes the following:
Hizb also seeks to penetrate state structures and convert government officials and military officers to its creed. Its platform openly states that "the Party started to seek the support of the influential people with two objectives in mind:
Hizb has begun to penetrate the elites in Central Asia. Observers in the region have reported successes in penetrating the Parliament in Kyrgyzstan, the media in Kazakhstan, and customs offices in Uzbekistan.
U.S. strategic interests in Central Asia include both access to the military bases needed for operations in Afghanistan and deterring the establishment of safe havens for terrorist organizations. The U.S. is seeking to prevent a country, a group of countries, or a transnational movement or organization from establishing hegemonic control in the region. This includes barring transnational Islamic fundamentalist organizations and drug cartels from emerging as ruling bodies or dominant regional power centers.
The U.S. must also prevent Central Asia from becoming an arsenal of dangerous weaponry and should prevent the development and production of weapons of mass destruction in the region, to preclude them from falling into the hands of rogue regimes or terrorists. Furthermore, the U.S. needs to ensure equal access to the energy resources of the region, primarily in the Caspian Sea area, and encourage development of the East-West transportation and economic corridors, also known as the Silk Road. Finally, the U.S. should encourage economic reform, expansion of civic space, democratization, and development of open society in the region.32
The secular regimes of Central Asia have little to no democratic legitimacy. Most of their rulers are Soviet-era communist party leaders. Almost no political space is left for secular opposition in these states. U.S. objectives are thus jeopardized not only by the authoritarian parties of radical Islamic revolution such as Hizb, but also by the authoritarian nature of these Central Asian regimes themselves, with their rampant corruption, declining living standards, poor delivery of public goods and services, and stagnant or declining economies. By governing so poorly and being intolerant and undemocratic, these regimes inadvertently breed religious extremism.33
In this environment, Hizb ut-Tahrir has captured a protest niche that otherwise would be occupied by a legitimate political opposition. Despite this, the U.S. government, along with the policy analysis and expert communities as well as governments in the region and around the world, has yet to attain a clear picture of Hizb's real size and strength and threat it poses.
WHAT THE U.S. DOES NOT KNOW
While reports of increasing Hizb activity abound, the extent to which local Hizb activities are part of a coordinated global plan is still unknown, just as the question of whether every region and country has an autonomous leadership that defines programs and sets deadlines remains unanswered. Hizb is rumored to be operating on a 13-year grand plan which, if it exists at all, is still unknown.
At its inception, Hizb likely had strong connections to Saudi Wahhabism, but it is unclear whether these links remain today. It is equally unclear whether Hizb has one or more state sponsors and, if so, who they are. At various times, experts have speculated that Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the Taliban regime in Afghanistan have been involved. The international intelligence community is also uncertain as to who finances the organization; who controls the funds internally; what the mode of financing is (e.g., regional self-sufficiency or centralized funding); and how funds are transferred (e.g., via the Hawala informal banking system or couriers).
The current leader of Hizb is also unknown, as are where he resides and the identity of the senior officers of Hizb. Upon his death, an-Nabhani was succeeded by Sheikh Abd-el Qadim Zaloom, another Palestinian cleric and a former professor at Al-Azhar in Cairo.34 Zaloom was with Hizb for 50 years and died on April 29, 2003.35 While anecdotal reports place the organization's headquarters in London and indicate that many European converts to Islam are staffing mid- and senior levels of the organization, very little evidence confirms this. These questions need to be answered, and a joint international program of collecting intelligence on Hizb and countering its activities must be developed.
The U.S. and its allies in the war on terrorism need to recognize that Hizb ut-Tahrir is a growing threat in Central Asia. Specifically, to develop a comprehensive strategy and counter Hizb's influence, the U.S. should:
Hizb ut-Tahrir represents a growing medium- and long-term threat to geopolitical stability and the secular regimes of Central Asia and ultimately poses a potential threat to other regions of the world. The party is transnational, secretive, and extremist in its anti-Americanism. It seeks to overthrow and destroy existing regimes and establish a Shari'a-based Caliphate.
Hizb may launch terrorist attacks against U.S. targets and allies, operating either alone or in cooperation with other global terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda. A Hizb takeover of any Central Asian state could provide the global radical Islamist movement with a geographic base and access to the expertise and technology to manufacture weapons of mass destruction. The U.S. and its allies must do everything possible to avoid such an outcome.
Ariel Cohen, Ph.D., is Research Fellow in Russian and Eurasian Studies in the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies at The Heritage Foundation.
2. Interview with Husain Haqqani, The Carnegie Endowment, May 2003; see also "Fourteen Members of Hizb ut-Tahrir Caught," Anatolia Press Agency, March 6, 2000; "More Arrests Reported in Hizb ut-Tahrir Operations," Anatolia Press Agency, March 7, 2000; FBIS/World News Connection, March 7, 2000.
3. Union of Councils Central Asian Information Network, "Uzbekistan: List of 14 Possible Political Prisoners Who Died in Jail, 5 Disappearances and 505 Possible Political Prisoners," at www.eurasianet.org/resource/uzbekistan/links/uzrt916.html.
4. Taqiuddin an-Nabhani, Khilafa, quoted in Alima Bissenova, "Hizb al-Tahrir Political Thought from the Pan-Islamic Perspective," paper presented at the 8th Annual Convention of the Association for Study of Nationalities, New York, April 2003, p. 6.
5. Al-Mawardi, The Ordinances of Government (United Kingdom: Garnett Publishing, 1996). An-Nabhani based his judgment on the work of Al-Mawardi, the first Islamic scholar who decreed the necessity of establishing the Caliphate. See Bissenova, "Hizb al-Tahrir Political Thought from the Pan-Islamic Perspective," pp. 8-11.
6. "Hizb-ut-Tahrir na `Svobode,'" (Hizb-ut-Tahrir at Radio Liberty); Vremia Po (Almaty, Kazakhstan), July 22, 2001; interview with Vitaly Ponomarev, coordinator of Central Asian program of the Moscow human rights group Memorial, available at FBIS.
10. "While in Baghdad, al-Husseini aided the pro-Nazi revolt of 1941. He then spent the rest of World War II as Hitler's special guest in Berlin, advocating the extermination of Jews in radio broadcasts to the Middle East and recruiting Balkan Muslims for the infamous SS `mountain divisions' that tried to wipe out Jewish communities throughout the region." See "Who was the Grand Mufti, Haj Muhammed Amin al-Husseini?" at www.palestinefacts.org/pf_mandate_grand_mufti.php.
24. Hizb-ut Tahrir Britain, "An Open Letter from Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain to the Iraqi Opposition Groups Conferring in Their Conference in London," December 13, 2002, at www.islamic-state.org/leaflets/021213_OpenLetterToIraqiOppositionConfLondon.pdf.
32. "U.S. Interests in the Central Asian Republics," Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, Committee on International Relations, U.S. House of Representatives, 105th Cong., 2nd Sess., February 12, 1998, at commdocs.house.gov/committees/intlrel/hfa48119.000/hfa48119_0f.htm.
33. Ariel Cohen, "U.S. Interests in Central Asia," testimony before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific , March 17, 1999, at www.heritage.org/Research/AsiaandthePacific/Test031799.cfm.
36. Rashid, "Reviving the Caliphate," p. 135. Under the auspices of the Taliban, representatives of Hizb attended meetings in Kabul, Afghanistan, in which the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and Al-Qaeda also participated.
40. "Uzbekistan: Harassment Before EBRD Annual Meeting," Human Rights Watch, May 2, 2003, at www.hrw.org/press/2003/05/uzbek050203.htm; see also "Persecution of Human Rights Defenders in Uzbekistan," Human Rights Watch Briefing Paper, May 1, 2003, at hrw.org/backgrounder/eca/uzbek050103-bck.htm.
41. "Muslim Clerics Visit U.S.," Caspian Business News, December 16, 2002, p. 12, at www.caspianbusinessnews.com/NewSite/preview/sections/regional/docs/16-12-2002.pdf. However, USAID, which is funding visits to the U.S. by Central Asian clergy so they can learn how Islam functions in a democracy, should be careful not to expose them to U.S.-based Wahhabis, who are actively abusing the democratic system.