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U.S. Department of State

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U.S. Department of State
Office of the Spokesman
Press Statement


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Statement By Richard Boucher, Spokesman
September 15, 2000

Intent to Designate as Foreign Terrorist Organization
the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan

The Department of State is notifying Congress of its intention to designate the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan as a Foreign Terrorist Organization under U.S. law. Formal designation will occur seven days following Congressional notification.

The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan has threatened the lives of civilians and regional security and undermined the rule of law. It is responsible for criminal acts of terrorism against the citizens of Uzbekistan and has also kidnapped foreigners, including four American mountain climbers who were held hostage last month before being able to escape. In 1999, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan took a group of Japanese geologists hostage. We also believe the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan was involved in explosions in Tashkent that killed 16 people and a bus hijacking in 1999, in which 2 passengers and several police were killed.

The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan has also publicly called for the violent overthrow of the Government of Uzbekistan and has claimed responsibility for ongoing armed incursions into the territory of Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. These actions have resulted in the deaths of a number of civilian Uzbek security personnel.

This designation, pursuant to U.S. law, adds the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan to the current list of 28 Foreign Terrorist Organizations. Groups designated must be reviewed every two years. The Secretary is authorized to make new designations at any time, or to remove a group from the list of U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations at any time if the facts warrant that action.

The Foreign Terrorist Organization designation makes it illegal for persons within U.S. jurisdiction to provide funding or material support to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, and gives the Department of the Treasury the authority to block any Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan assets within U.S. jurisdiction. In certain cases, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan members or representatives can be denied visas or excluded from the United States.

Additional information about the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan is contained in the fact sheet on the group's activities released today by the Press Office.

  

FACT SHEET ISLAMIC MOVEMENT OF UZBEKISTAN

The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) is a coalition of Islamic militants from Uzbekistan and other Central Asian states who oppose the current Uzbek regime. They seek to overthrow the existing government by force and to establish an Islamic state in Uzbekistan. To this end, IMU leader Tohir Yuldashev has declared a "jihad" or "holy war" against the Government of Uzbekistan.

The IMU was founded in 1996. Its members include individuals who fought in Tajikistan's 1992-97 civil war. Since early 1999, its activities have become more violent, to include bombings and kidnappings.

Since the mid-1990's, IMU fighters have trained in camps in Afghanistan, some controlled by Usama Bin Laden. It receives assistance from the Taliban and other groups and individuals based in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

The IMU has a clear record of terrorist activity including car bombings in Tashkent, which killed 16 people, and the seizure of numerous hostages, including four American mountain climbers in August. The Americans were able to escape after being held hostage for six days in August 2000.

The main goal of the IMU is to topple the current government in Uzbekistan by creating domestic and regional instability. Such instability threatens important economic and commercial interests in the region. The United States actively supports the peace process in Tajikistan that ended the civil war there, a process the IMU opposes.

The IMU is not the only group to oppose the current government of Uzbekistan. However, they are the only group that has resorted to terrorism to achieve their goals, the only group to actively threaten US interests, and the only group to have attacked American citizens. Our policy is cognizant of the difference between terrorism and legitimate opposition, and our designation of the IMU as a terrorist organization fully reflects this distinction.

The United States supports the right of Uzbekistan to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity from the violent actions of the IMU, and commends the measures in the course of the current incursions to minimize casualties and ensure the protection of innocent civilians.

[end of document]

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