Uzbekistan is not an Islamic extremist hotbed

The SRI newswire sent this Snap analysis on the terror attack in New York City to subscribers of The Conway Bulletin last week:

EDINBURGH, NOV. 2 2017 (SRI-Plus/The Conway Bulletin) – The attack in New York City on Monday that killed eight people and injured 12 was the third this year by an Uzbek, but accusing Uzbekistan of being a hotbed of international terrorism is wrong and muddleheaded.

On New Year’s Eve, shortly after midnight, Abdulkadir Masharipov shot dead 39 people when he open fired at a nightclub in Istanbul; in April Rakhmat Akilov killed five people when he drove a lorry through shopping crowds on a Stockholm pedestrianised street; now Sayfullo Saipov has killed eight people in New York with a rental truck.

All three men are ethnic Uzbeks and all three attacks have been linked to the radical IS group.

It didn’t take long for the international media, particularly the US media, to pick up this macabre statistic and run with it. If you only read this media you’d be forgiven for thinking that Uzbekistan was essentially a snakes’ nest of Islamic radicals waiting for their chance to move overseas and strike.

This, of course, is simply not true.

Saipov, the perpetrator of Monday’s senseless attack in New York, had moved to the United States in 2010 from Uzbekistan through a Green Card he had won in an annual lottery. Media reports don’t suggest that he spent much time in Uzbekistan after leaving for the United States or that he had been to Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq or Libya — known centres of Islamic radicalism.

Instead, reports said that he had become self-radicalised online, as is often the case — whether based in Birmingham, Berlin or Boston. He didn’t turn up in the United States radicalised.

Of course, Uzbekistan has a role in this process. It is a populous Muslim country with an under-educated workforce that is highly dependent on migration for jobs and cash. When they are working and living overseas, Uzbek migrant workers are vulnerable — as are Kyrgyz or Dagestani or Moroccan or Egyptian — and they are preyed on by Islamic radical recruiters.

These recruiters, either online or in person, target poorly educated workers thousands of miles from their normally strong family structures. They will succeed in converting and corrupting only a handful of them.

That three attackers this year are ethnic Uzbeks has little to do with Uzbekistan itself and far more to do with the bigger Islamic radical recruitment systems in the West and the complexities of integrating migrants into Western societies.

The root cause of Monday’s attack in New York lies on the United States’ East Coast and not in Uzbekistan.

By James Kilner, editor of The Conway Bulletin

This snap analysis was first published via the Silk Road Intelligencer newswire. The SRI is the newswire of The Conway Bulletin newspaper. For more info and to subscribe, please go to


Copyright — Silk Road Intelligencer (SRI) 2017

-Silk Road Intelligencer (SRI) is the free newswire service of The Conway Bulletin. The SRI reports on Central Asia.

-A free lightweight version of the SRI newswire is available. This expanded ‘plus’ version of the newswire is available only to subscribers to The Conway Bulletin news service.

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