Uzbek ‘militants’ heading home

Uzbek ‘militants’ heading home

Uzbekistan’s police claim they are finding numerous militant Islamists among returning Uzbek migrants and plan to expose those who remain abroad via social networks, Home Affairs Minister Abdusalom Azizov announced.

An Uzbek asylum seeker has been charged in Sweden for the truck attack (pictured) that killed five in Stockholm in April.

“I will not hide the fact that almost every day we uncover people … who have returned and start spreading the Wahhabi ideology here,” Azizov told reporters, referring to the Saudi-backed form of fundamentalist Islam that is banned in Uzbekistan.

“There are many attempts [to disseminate the movement in Uzbekistan], but so far we are stopping them all,” the minister in the dictatorial administration added.

Azizov said returning citizens had been radicalised “in Russia, Turkey, other countries”.

Uzbekistan, which battled domestic armed Islamists in the 1990s, claimed it had warned western security services before the Stockholm attack that suspect Rakhmat Akilov had been recruited by so-called Islamic State.

President Shavkat Mirziyoyev since coming to office last year has overseen the release of several political prisoners, improving relations with the west and opening the door to increased security cooperation.

“But in some countries, including Sweden, our [alleged militants] are treated as refugees,” said Azizov.

He added that Tashkent planned to publish lists of wanted Uzbek militants on social networks to help draw them to the attention of potential foreign employers, neighbours and governments. Thousands of Uzbeks are living as dissidents overseas after fleeing the oppressive regime, renowned as having one of the world’s worst human rights records.

Tashkent is making efforts to address its reputation as a tyranny.

Police stations will soon be required to install cameras in interrogation cells in the latest measure to reform the law enforcement system, the Uzbek media reported.

News website reported that under an order signed by the president and the measure is due to take effect next year.

Video conferencing is also being introduced across the country’s police stations.

The proposals arise from criticism levelled at the police by Mirziyoyev in February, when he said policing techniques were outdated and that investigations were proving inefficient. Mirziyoyev was prime minister for many years before becoming head of state, undermining his ability to blame the previous administration.

Picture credit: Wikimedia

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