No major terrorist attacks occurred in Eurasia in 2000, but counterterrorist efforts, often in conjunction with counterinsurgency efforts, continued in the states of the former Soviet Union.
Russia, China, and the United States were all involved in regional efforts to combat terrorism. In 2000, members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) discussed establishing a CIS-wide counterterrorism center in Bishkek, although past efforts have been unsuccessful. The heads of the CIS states security services put forward Gen. Boris Mylnikov, former First Deputy Director of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) Department for Protecting the Constitutional Order and Combating Terrorism, to lead the potential CIS Counter-terrorism Center, and on 1 December the CIS heads of state agreed on funding for the organization, half of which will be provided by Russia. The center began operations in December 2000 and reportedly has been tasked by the CIS to maintain a database of information on terrorism.
The Shanghai Forum--Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Russia, and China--met in July and discussed cooperation among the five states as well as with Uzbekistan against terrorism, insurgency, and Islamic extremism. The Forum supported a proposal to establish a regional counterterrorism center in Bishkek, although no progress had been made in implementing this decision by year's end.
All five Central Asian states participated in the Central Asian Counterterrorism Conference in June sponsored by the US Department of State. Other participants included representatives from Russia, Egypt, and Spain. The United Kingdom, Turkey, China, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) sent observers.
Several Central Asian states also concluded counterterrorism agreements in 2000. Uzbekistan in early May signed an agreement with India that included an extra-dition treaty and mutual assistance in criminal investigations with an eye toward counterterrorist operations. In June, Kazkahstan and Kyrgyzstan separately reached bilateral agreements with China to cooperate on counterterrorist matters. In October and November, Uzbekistan also signed agreements on counterterrorism cooperation with Turkey, China, and Italy.
Azerbaijan took strong steps to curb the international logistics networks that support the fighters in Chechnya, to include closing international Islamic relief organizations believed to assist militants in Chechnya, strengthening border controls with Russia, and arresting and extraditing suspected mujahidin supporters. There has been good cooperation on counterterrorism cases between the Government of Azerbaijan and US law enforcement. In mid-September, Azerbaijani police arrested seven Dagestani men under suspicion of working with the mujahidin and extradited them to Russia. The government has cooperated closely and effectively with the United States on antiterrorism issues, and a program of antiterrorism assistance has been initiated. Azerbaijan intends to join the CIS Counterterrorism Center.
In early October, the Supreme Court in Baku found 13 members of Jayshullah, an indigenous terrorist group who may have had plans to attack the US Embassy, guilty of committing terrorist actions. The court sentenced them to prison terms ranging from eight years to life.
Georgia faced the potential for spillover violence from the Chechen conflict and contended with international mujahidin seeking to use Georgian territory as a conduit for financial and logistic support to the mujahidin in Chechnya. Russia continued to pressure Georgia for stronger border controls. With international assistance, Georgia has steadily increased its border control presence on its northern border and invited monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The OSCE has not recorded any movement of mujahidin across the Georgian border with Chechnya, although some evidence suggests that, despite these efforts, neither Russian nor Georgian border guards have been able to seal the border entirely from individuals and small groups passing to and from Chechnya.
Russia alleged that there are mujahidin in the Pankisi Gorge in northern Georgia. Georgia moved more Interior Ministry units into the region. Hostage taking for ransom by criminal gangs continued to be a problem in some parts of Georgia. Five persons were kidnapped in the Abkhazia region, including two unarmed UN military observers and an international NGO employee, in early June, then released without payment of ransom. Two International Red Cross staff employees were taken hostage on 4 August in the Pankisi Gorge and released one week later under the condition that their kidnappers would not face criminal charges.
In Almaty in September, Kazakhstani police killed four suspected Uighur separatist militants who were sought in connection with the murders of two policemen and a leader of the Uighur community in Kyrgyzstan.
The only clear instances of international terrorism in Central Asia this year occurred in Kyrgzystan as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan's (IMU) insurgent efforts continued. Four US citizen mountain climbers were taken hostage by IMU militants operating in southern Kyrgyzstan in early August and held captive for several days before they escaped unharmed. IMU militants also took six German, three Russian, one Ukrainian, and two Uzbek mountaineers hostage, but later freed them.
Russian authorities continued to search for suspects in the four deadly apartment bombings that took place in August and September 1999. The trial of the six Dagestani men accused of conducting the bombing in Buinaksk, which killed 62 persons, began in December. There still are no suspects in custody for the bombings of two buildings in Moscow or a building in Volgodonsk. In November, Polish authorities arrested two Russian organized crime members, whom they suspect are connected to the August bombing in Moscow's Pushkin Square, which killed eight persons.
Several incidents of domestic terrorism occurred in Tajikistan in 2000. A small car bomb, planted on a vehicle belonging to the European Community Humanitarian Organization (ECHO), exploded on 16 July in Dushanbe and injured several children. In addition, in October an unoccupied car belonging to the Chairman of the Democratic Party, Mahmadruzi Iskandarov, was bombed. Bombings and other violence marred Tajikistani Parliamentary elections in February, which concluded the Tajikistani Peace Process ending a five-year civil war. On 1 October and 31 December four churches were bombed. Several deaths and numerous casualties resulted from the bombing in October. There is no evidence that any of the attacks, either on the churches or during the elections, involved international interests. While the Tajikistani Government does not support the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), it has been unable to prevent it from transiting its territory.
The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) infiltrated fighters into mountainous areas of Surkhandar'inskaya Oblast southern Uzbekistan during the spring and summer of 2000. Uzbekistani military forces discovered the fighters and drove them back into Tajikistan. Tohir Yuldashev and Juma Khodjiev (a.k.a. Juma Namangani), the leaders of the IMU, were tried in absentia together with 10 other persons accused of terrorism or anticonstitutional activity. All defendants were convicted at a trial that failed to conform to international standards for the protection of the human rights of the defendants. The court sentenced Yuldashev and Khodjiev to death and the remaining defendants to prison terms. On 25 September, the United States designated the IMU a Foreign Terrorist Organization, citing both its armed incursions into Uzbekistan and neighboring Kyrgyzstan and its taking of foreign hostages, including US citizens.
Tohir Yuldashev, IMU leader