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Thursday May 19, 2005

AP: Uzbek Terrorist Leader Wants Islamic State and Caliphate

KORASUV, Uzbekistan (AP) Confirming what President Karimov has charged the rebels with, the leader of a group of rebels claiming to control this Uzbek border town said Wednesday that he and his supporters intend to build an Islamic state and were ready to fight if government troops attempt to crush their revolt.

"We will be building an Islamic state here in accordance with the Quran," Bakhtiyor Rakhimov told The Associated Press while leaning down from the back of a horse.

"We will be building an Islamic state here in accordance with the Quran," "All decisions will be taken by people at a mosque. There will be rule of Shariah law," "If Soldiers and police come and attack us we will fight even with knives."

- Bakhtiyor Rakhimov, Uzbek Islamist Terrorist leader

photo credits: BBC News

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Tense but confident, the bearded 42-year-old Islamic terrorist, wearing a traditional Uzbek embroidered black-and-white skull cup, snapped his fingers as he gave orders to an assistant. It was unclear how many people he commanded, but there was no sign of any Uzbek government officials in the town of about 20,000.

"The town is in the hands of our people (the Islamists)" he said as he kept an eye on two roads converging at an intersection in Korasuv.

However, Uzbek Interior Minister Zakir Almatov shrugged off the terrorist's claims.

"It's all sheer nonsense, everything is normal there," he said when asked whether the government intends to move against insurgents in Korasuv. "If anything had happened there, I already would have been there."

The uprising in Korasuv began Saturday, a day after government troops violently crushed an uprising in the eastern Uzbek city of Andijan.

Protesters in Korasuv, 20 miles from Andijan, set fire to a police headquarters, a tax police office and several traffic police posts, and they looted several other government buildings. They also beat up several police officers and local officials, forcing them to flee the town.

President Islam Karimov blamed the unrest in Andijan on extremist Islamic groups that seek to overthrow his secular government and create an Islamic state.

Observers of the impoverished Central Asia region have long feared that any social unrest could be used by Islamic groups to promote their own goals.

Karimov's government has been struggling with fundamentalist Islamic groups since the nation of 25 million gained independence with the 1991 Soviet collapse. Many see the rapid spread of radical Islam that initially emerged here as a backlash from Karimov's heavy-handed crackdown on Islamists, which has swept up many innocent Muslims. Desperately poor and jobless youth who have become an easy target for recruitment by Islamic groups.

The terrorist leader Rakhimov presented an idealistic view of the future in an Islamic state. "We will turn this land into paradise as desribed in the Quran," and "it will spread further" he went on, reflecting one of the central ideas of most radical Islamic groups active in the region: the creation of a worldwide Islamic state - the Khilafah of Caliphate where non-Muslim would be forced to embrace Islam or be relgated to a Slave status as Dhimmis.

"All decisions will be taken by people at a mosque. There will be rule of Shariah law," Rakhimov went on. "Thieves and other criminals will be tried by the people themselves."

Among the groups that promote such ideas, the one that probably has the most followers in formerly Soviet Central Asia is the Hizb-ut- Tarir party, which Uzbek authorities accuse of inspiring a series of terror attacks in the capital Tashkent and the central city of Bukhara last year that killed more than 50. Hizb-ut-Tahrir, which claims to reject violence, denied responsibility.

Rakhimov said he and his supporters did not belong to any specific Islamic organization. "We are just people," he said. "We just follow the Quran."

Asked if he was afraid that government soldiers would try to regain control of Korasuv by force, as they did in Andijan, he said: "They came here today, a few military people. I turned them back."

"It's the Shahadat (martyrdom) of those mujahids (holy warriors) who were killed in Andijan that protects us," said his assistant Arab- Polvon Badanboyev, "We will deal with Karimov," Rakhimov said.

"If Soldiers and police come and attack us we will fight even with knives," he said.

Story Credits:Bagila Bukharbayeva writing in the Guardian

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