IMU leader in Tajikistan sentenced to life in prison

The leader of the Isfarin cell of the terrorist organisation Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) Anvar Kayumov was sentenced to life in prison. Five other IMU members were sentenced from seven to 11 years.

Nigina Sharipova

2009-10-21

TAJIKISTAN — On Oct. 19, the office of the Tajik Prosecutor General announced that the IMU’s Isfarin cell leader, Anvar Kayumov, was sentenced to life in prison. Five fellow IMU members were sentenced to terms between seven and 11 years in a maximum security prison.

Investigators established that the convicted men took part in attacks on a jail in Kairakkuma and on border stations between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan in 2006. Nine policemen and border troops were killed in the attacks.

According to the Tajik Prosecutor General, Kayumov headed the IMU cell since 1997. He received military training from the former IMU leader Jumaboi Khojiev (also known as Juma Namangoni), who died in 2001 in Afghanistan. It was Namangoni who sent Kayumov to northern Tajikistan to recruit new members for the IMU. The extremist was detained in Kabul in 2008 at the request of Tajik law enforcement and extradited to Tajikistan. The other convicts were detained in 2008 in Tajikistan.

The IMU was formed in 1996, and calls for the violent overthrow of Central Asian governments and their transformation into Islamic states. Members of the organisation first made their presence known in Tajikistan in 1997, in the Sogdi Region. Over the course of 12 months, 84 IMU members were detained.

During the Tajik civil war between 1992 and 1997, the IMU was part of the Unified Tajik Opposition (UTO). After peace was achieved, however, the opposition's armed forces joined with the government and forced the IMU from Tajik territory.

Some former Tajik opposition members, however, continued to maintain contact with IMU members who remained on Tajik territory for many years. Last summer, former UTO field commander Mirzo Ziyoev, believed by Tajik law enforcement to be a patron of the IMU, was killed during a special operation to eliminate the movement.

According to Tajik experts, IMU extremists use Tajikistan as a centre for the transit of drugs, which they use to finance their organisation and support military training for their members.

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