Rahmatullah Naikzad, AP
Masked Taliban militants are seen posing at a defensive position in Ghazni province,
Afghanistan, on Saturday, July 12, 2008. (AP)

Al-Qaida Drawing Foreign Fighters into Afghanistan

July 21, 2008 07:57 AM
by Anne Szustek
According to militants and foreign policy experts, the Islamist terrorist group is building up its forces with dissidents from historically secular Turkey and the countries of Central Asia.

30-Second Summary


The religious traditions of the Turkic peoples are steeped in Sufi mysticism based in the Hanafi school of Islam. Today, press restrictions block Internet-based militant Islamist propaganda. But the hopelessness that can spring out of poverty and the need to find a voice in staunchly autocratic regimes have nonetheless pushed some youth toward Islamist terrorism.

Hizb-ut Tahrir, a secretive group with sizeable membership in Uzbekistan, appeals to “young men who perceive that their way of life is blocked by ‘the system,’ by corrupt authorities, or by other obstacles,” reports EurasiaNet. Hizb-ut Tahrir does not have stated militant aims. But the group’s tenets suggest that it deems no measure too great in its goal of reestablishing a caliphate.

The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan has very similar objectives, however is outwardly militant. Its leader, Tohir Yoldosh, is a faithful student of Ayman Al-Zawahiri, al-Qaida’s No. 2.

Among some ultraconservative Turkish Muslims, trepidation over violence in largely Muslim areas such as Chechnya, Iraq and Afghanistan has translated into political Islamism—both peaceful and violent.

German-Turk suicide bomber Cüneyt Çiftçi was lauded by Turkish militant Islamic Web sites as a hero for killing 70 U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan in March.

In 2003, shortly after the Istanbul synagogue bombings, Ali Kerniç, a resident of Konya, Turkey’s most conservative city—and the final home of peace-loving Sufi mystic Rumi— said that the suspects “ have been hurt by the United States and other forces. They are a little sick in the mind. … Islam rejects terrorism.”

Headline Link: ‘Al-Qaida Draws More Foreign Recruits to Afghan War’

Video: ‘Turkish Islamist Web Sites Glorify Turkish Jihadist’

Background: Deteriorating situation in Afghanistan; Islam in Turkey and Central Asia

Key Player: Al-Qaida

Analysis: The rise of Islamist terrorist groups in Central Asia and in Turkey


Related Topic: ‘Shootout at U.S. Consulate in Istanbul Leaves Six Dead’


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