Russia, however, continued to be the target of terrorist attacks in 2003 carried out by Chechen terror groups that have adopted suicide/homicide bombing techniques, including the use of young women as bombers. The three largest such attacks resulted in more than 40 deaths each. In addition, venues in Moscow were attacked, including Red Square and a rock concert six miles from the Kremlin. The Moscow attacks killed 22 and injured several dozen as the perpetrators sought to sow terror in the capital.
States in the region continued to provide overflight and temporary basing rights; share law enforcement and intelligence information; and identify, monitor, and apprehend al-Qaida members and other terrorists. Countries in the region also took diplomatic and political steps to contribute to the international struggle against terrorism, such as becoming party to some or all of the 12 United Nations international conventions and protocols relating to terrorism.
Enhancing regional counterterrorism cooperation has been a priority for the United States. Toward that end, the US Department of State's Coordinator for Counterterrorism, working closely with the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, hosted the Fifth Counterterrorism Conference for Eurasian states in Vienna, Austria, in June 2003. Participants included most of the countries of Eurasia, Turkey, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Delegations consisted of officials from the ministries of Foreign Affairs, Health, Defense, and Interior and the intelligence services. The conference consisted of a tabletop exercise based on a bioterrorism incident (the intentional release of pneumonic plague at a major international soccer match). Exercise groups concentrated on the broad range of public health, law enforcement, political-military, socio-economic, and human rights issues, emphasizing the need for interdisciplinary communication, cooperation, and advance planning. The basic structure of the conference provided participants an opportunity to describe and identify components of their national programs to respond to a bioterrorism attack and make recommendations to their head of state to deal with the situation presented in the exercise scenario.
The United States also participated in the OSCE's first Annual Security Review Conference in June 2003, bringing in Ambassador Cofer Black as a keynote speaker. Also in the context of the OSCE, the United States led the drive to adopt a Ministerial decision committing OSCE participating states to adopt International Civil Aviation Organization travel document standards by December 2005 or as soon as technologically and financially feasible.
Armenia was a full and active participant in the global Coalition against terrorism in 2003 and is in the process of strengthening its domestic antiterror legislation. Armenian officials, including the president, issued repeated statements condemning terrorism and supporting the United States and the global Coalition against terrorism. Armenia provides no support for international terrorism or for any international terrorist group and has made no statements in support of terrorism or of a terrorism supporting country. Armenia maintains diplomatic and economic relations with two countries on the US State Sponsors of Terrorism List -- Iran and Syria. Iran and Syria have large ethnic Armenian populations.
Armenia was very cautious in public statements regarding the war with Iraq, due primarily to a substantial ethnic Armenian population in that country, but has since volunteered military units for postwar reconstruction. The Government also offered engineering and medical forces to stability operations in Iraq.
There were no actions before the Armenian judicial system in 2003 regarding international terrorism or acts of terror against US citizens or interests nor were there any new actions initiated regarding domestic terrorism. A new Armenian criminal law more clearly defining terrorist acts replaced Soviet-era legislation in 2003. Other legislation on terrorism and terrorist finance currently pending in the National Assembly should strengthen the ability of the Government to prosecute terrorist-related offenses. Five participants in the terrorist attack against the Armenian Parliament that killed Prime Minister Vazgen Sargsian, Speaker Karen Demirchian, and six other Government officials on 27 October 1999 were sentenced to life imprisonment in December 2003. They will be denied amnesty under a new law signed by President Robert Kocharyan on 26 November.
The Armenian National Assembly is also considering laws establishing an intergovernmental antiterrorism center and combating terrorist financing and money laundering. The Government strongly supports the legislation. The antiterrorism center will serve as a central government body to develop a national anti-terror strategy and to coordinate the antiterrorism efforts of government ministries. The National Assembly also passed an export-control law in October 2003, which could assist efforts to monitor the export of dual-use goods. The Armenian Central Bank has acted under the authority of the new criminal code to freeze the assets of designated terrorist entities.
The Armenian Government did not extradite or request the extradition of any suspected terrorists during the year. Armenia does not have mutual legal assistance treaties with most nations, including the United States, although criminal suspects have been sent to the United States for trial on a case-by-case basis.
Armenia is a party to six of the 12 international conventions and protocols relating to terrorism and has signed a seventh.
Cooperation between Azerbaijan and the United States on counterterrorism is longstanding and has intensified since the September 11 attacks. Azerbaijan has turned over approximately 32 foreign citizens with suspected ties to terrorists, including eight to Egypt and three to Saudi Arabia, and has aggressively prosecuted members of suspected terrorist groups. It has also joined 10 European conventions on combating terrorism, and President Heydar Aliyev instructed his Government to implement UN Security Council Resolutions 1368, 1373, and 1377.
In August 2003, 150 Azerbaijani soldiers joined the peacekeeping contingent in Iraq. A platoon of Azerbaijani soldiers has been working with the Turkish peacekeeping contingent in Afghanistan since November 2002. Azerbaijan maintains diplomatic relations with Iran, which is on the US State Sponsors of Terrorism List.
During the past two years, the Azerbaijan Government has stepped up its effort to combat terrorist financing, including distribution of lists of suspected terrorist groups and individuals to local banks. In May 2003, the Government created an inter-ministerial task force on money laundering and financial crimes, which will develop a government-wide strategy to combat financial crimes, including the financing of terrorism. It will also establish a financial intelligence unit. In January 2003, Azerbaijan revoked the registration of the Benevolence International Foundation, a designated financier of terrorism, after having frozen the organization's bank accounts. The Justice Ministry also revoked the registration of two other Islamic charities -- the Kuwait Fund for the Sick and the Qatar Humanitarian Organization -- for activities against the national interests of Azerbaijan.
The government also approved changes to the criminal code that increased the maximum penalty for acts of terrorism from 15 years to life imprisonment and added a provision making the financing of terrorist activities a crime under Azerbaijani law. Azerbaijan has deported numerous terrorists and persons suspected of having ties to terrorists and closed three Islamic organizations that were suspected of supporting terrorist groups. Members of Jayshullah, an indigenous terrorist group, who were arrested in 2000 and tried in 2001 for plotting to attack the US Embassy in Baku, remain in prison.
While Azerbaijan has served as a route for international mujahidin with ties to terrorist organizations seeking to move men, money, and materiel throughout the Caucasus, it has had some success in reducing their presence and hampering their activities. In May 2002, the Government convicted seven Azerbaijani citizens who, intending to fight in Chechnya, received military training in the Pankisi Gorge in Georgia. Four received suspended sentences, and the others were sentenced to four-to-five years in prison. Throughout 2003, Azerbaijan made successful and significant efforts to prevent international terrorists from transiting Azerbaijani territory.
Azerbaijan is a party to eight of the 12 international conventions and protocols relating to terrorism.
The Georgian Government remained deeply committed to combating international and domestic terrorism and has consistently and publicly condemned acts of terror. Georgia has not engaged in any form of support for international terrorism, terrorists, or terrorist groups and has not made any public statement in support of any terrorist-supporting country. The Government frequently expresses full support for the global war on terror and expresses sympathy and support to those individuals and countries victimized by terrorist attacks. Georgia maintains diplomatic relations with Iran, which is on the US State Sponsors of Terrorism List.
Although Georgia prosecuted no acts of international or domestic terrorism in 2003, the Georgian Government is fully committed to prosecuting individuals who engage in terrorist activities. In 2003, Georgia extradited several Chechen fighters arrested in Georgia to Russia. Throughout 2003, the Georgian Government took significant strides to support US-led efforts in the war against terrorism. Specifically, the Government demonstrated its willingness to provide the United States with information related to possible terrorist activities in Georgia. In support of Georgia's counterterrorism efforts, the United States continued to fully fund and support the Georgia Train and Equip Program (GTEP). GTEP supports the training of four Georgian army battalions and a mechanized company, plus training in tactics for operations against terrorists for smaller numbers of Interior Ministry troops and border guards. Georgia is still used to a limited degree as a terrorist transit state, although much less so since the Georgian crackdown on the Pankisi Gorge in late 2002.
In August 2003, the Georgian Government sent 70 military personnel for a six-month deployment to Iraq in support of Coalition operations. In February 2004, 200 GTEP-trained servicemen will replace these personnel. Georgian law-enforcement and security authorities continued to maintain a presence in the Pankisi Gorge throughout 2003.
Georgia is a party to six of the 12 international conventions and protocols relating to terrorism.
The Government of Kazakhstan has been publicly outspoken in support for the fight against terrorism and categorically denounces acts of terrorism. Kazakhstan is a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization along with China, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgystan. Kazakhstan maintains diplomatic relations with Cuba, North Korea, Libya, the Palestinian Authority, Sudan, and Iran.
Under the terms of a Memorandum of Understanding of 2002, Kazakhstan allows Coalition forces the use of Almaty International Airport for emergency flight diversion in support of OEF. Since December 2001, Kazakhstan has also allowed more than 1,100 overflights in support of OEF at no cost. In the summer of 2003, Kazakhstan sent a 27-member military engineering and ordnance-disposal contingent to Iraq. In 2003, representatives of Kazakhstan successfully completed an introductory two-year program consisting of 14 courses offered by the antiterrorism training assistance office of the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security.
Kazakhstan is a party to 11 of the 12 international conventions and protocols relating to terrorism.
Kyrgyzstan in 2003 remained a dependable and outspoken ally in the global war on terrorism, hosting Coalition forces engaged in OEF and taking political, legislative, and law enforcement initiatives to disrupt and deter terrorism. President Akayev has staunchly defended the US presence within Kyrgyzstani borders. In 2001, the Kyrgyzstani Government authorized the construction of a Coalition base adjacent to the existing Manas airport near the nation's capital of Bishkek, in support of OEF. The base currently hosts approximately 1,100 Coalition forces. In 2003, this included soldiers from the United States, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, South Korea, and Spain. The base is used for combat support, transport, refueling, tanker and cargo shipments, and ground operations in Afghanistan.
President Akayev proclaims that antiterrorism efforts are of extremely high priority for Kyrgyzstan and noted that terrorism is not only a threat to Kyrgyzstan but to regional and international security as well. In September 2003, a Russian airbase was opened near the village of Kant, approximately 20 miles from Bishkek. The base was constructed under the auspices of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and is used for security and antiterrorism efforts for CSTO members Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan.
Kyrgyzstan is a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) with China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. The SCO voted to create an antiterrorism center in Bishkek in 2003. Although the location of this center was later changed to Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan has provided logistic support for its creation.
Kyrgyzstan suffered one deadly act of terrorism in 2003. In May, militants from the IMU bombed a currency exchange in Osh, killing one man.
An attack in March on a bus traveling between Kyrgyzstan and China killed 21 people, including 19 Chinese citizens. This incident is still under investigation and may have been terrorism or crime related.
Kyrgyzstan's courts in February sentenced Sherali Akbotoyev, a captured Kyrgyzstani member of the IMU, to 25 years in prison for violating six articles of the Kyrgyzstani criminal code, including his involvement in armed attacks against Kyrgyzstani military forces during the IMU incursions of 1999 and 2000. In November, the Kyrgyzstani Supreme Court banned four groups, including the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, enabling the state to lawfully seize its property.
Security forces in Kyrgyzstan played a major role in combating terrorism in 2003, successfully disrupting terrorist operations reportedly aimed at US interests. Security authorities in May detained five IMU operatives whom they later determined had conducted the terrorist bombing in December 2002 at the Oberon Market in Bishkek that killed seven people and the Osh currency-exchange bombing in May 2003. Kyrgyzstani authorities worked closely with Uzbekistani authorities to disrupt the cell and provided information that helped Uzbekistan capture one of the cell's members in Andijan, Uzbekistan. In November, Kyrgyzstani authorities announced that they had detained three suspects who had been planning an attack on US interests.
Kyrgyzstan's military and internal forces worked to improve their counterterrorism capabilities and to expand their cooperation with regional partners in 2003. In March, Kyrgyzstan's Interior Ministry conducted counterterrorism exercises in the southern part of the country and, in July, seized a cache of hidden weapons in the Batken region. Bishkek also moved to bolster the security of the nation's borders from terrorists, announcing in March it would increase the number of border checkpoints and in September that border troops, working jointly with border forces from neighboring Tajikistan, would operate together to identify mountain paths used by terrorists. Kyrgyzstan is party to nine of the 12 international conventions and protocols relating to terrorism.
Russia pursued several major domestic and global counterterrorism initiatives in 2003, sustaining its key role in the global war on terrorism. Russian political, legislative, and law enforcement efforts supported international cooperative efforts and a number of successful domestic terrorist prosecutions. Russian attitudes toward terrorism, however, continue to be influenced by the ongoing war in Chechnya. Local insurgents in the North Caucasus remained the greatest terrorist threat to Russia and were responsible for the murder of hundreds of Russian citizens, civilians as well as military. There is evidence of a foreign terrorist presence in Chechnya, although much of the actual terrorist activity there is homegrown and linked to the Chechen separatist movement.
Russia passed several new antiterrorism laws, began implementing previously passed legislation, and facilitated effective interdiction of terrorist finance flows by becoming a full member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). In February, the Russian Supreme Court issued an official Government list of 15 terrorist organizations, the first of its kind in Russia and an important step toward implementation of counterterrorism statutes. Following the promulgation of the list, the 15 organizations were prohibited from engaging in any financial activities.
Some proposed Russian counterterrorism legislation has stirred controversy. Duma-drafted amendments to the 1991 "Law on Mass Media," designed to restrict the dissemination of information that could be useful to terrorists, were vetoed by President Putin in November 2002 following criticisms that they unduly restricted freedom of the press. A long-promised redrafting of the media law, prompted by Kremlin criticism of the role played by some media outlets during the Dubrovka Theater hostage crisis of October 2002, has yet to occur.
Examples of noteworthy law enforcement and judicial actions undertaken by Russia in 2003 include:
Russia's international efforts have focused on building multilateral support for counterterrorist actions and strengthening the international legal basis for such cooperation.
At the United Nations, Russia cosponsored a draft General Assembly resolution on human rights and terrorism in November 2003. Russia also submitted the names of Chechen rebels Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev and Shamil Basayev, in June and August respectively, for inclusion on the UNSC resolution 1267 Sanctions Committee list of designated terrorists for their links to al-Qaida. The United States joined Russia in submitting Grandmother and sister of Yelena Kosenko, a victim of a suicide terrorist attack at a rock concert outside Moscow on 5 July 2003, cry while holding her photograph during her funeral. Basayev's name to the sanctions committee, and Secretary Powell designated both as foreign terrorists under Executive Order 13224.
After Secretary of State Powell designated The Islamic International Brigade, the Special Purpose Islamic Regiment, and the Riyadus-Salikhin Reconnaissance and Sabotage Battalion of Chechen Martyrs as terrorist organizations in February 2003, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, along with Spain and Germany, jointly submitted the names of the three Chechen groups to the 1267 Sanctions Committee -- the first time that the permanent members made such a joint submission on a terrorist designation.
Russia used its leadership in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and the CSTO to push for expanded counterterrorist operations. It also sought the establishment of a counterterrorism center in Central Asia. Russia also worked through the SCO to support creation of a joint antiterrorism center in Tashkent in 2004.
Russian policymakers continue to believe that the NATO-Russia Council can play a role in counterterrorism cooperation and the prevention of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Russia hosted the first-ever Moscow meeting of the NATO-Russia Council in May 2003, which focused on developing concrete joint antiterrorism training projects and operations.
Russia maintains diplomatic relations and historically good ties with all the states on the US State Sponsors of Terrorism List. For example, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov paid a working visit to Syria in July 2003, and Hassan Rohani, secretary of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran, visited Moscow in November 2003. Although Russia has never condoned Palestinian terrorist acts, Russian officials do not necessarily view all Palestinian actions as inherently terrorist in nature and sometimes argue that armed resistance is justified against an Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory. Nevertheless, the Government of Russia firmly opposes state-sponsored terrorism and supports international initiatives to combat it. The Russian Government maintains that its relationships with states on the US terrorism list serve as a positive influence that has -- or may have -- moderated or diminished these governments' support for terrorist groups.
Cooperative effort in the global war on terrorism remains a key pillar of Russia's strategic partnership with the United States. Regular meetings of the Working Group on Counterterrorism, co-chaired by US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Trubnikov, continue to facilitate counterterrorism cooperation between the two nations. The Working Group has encouraged expanded direct agency-to- agency contacts and specific antiterrorism projects. Russia has established similar bilateral working groups on terrorism with a number of other countries, including the United Kingdom, India, France, and Germany.
The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) and the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) regularly exchanged operational counterterrorism information in 2003. Russian authorities provided the United States Department of Homeland Security and FBI with evidence leading to the prosecution of an individual in the United States for fundraising activities associated with terrorism. The FSB also assisted the FBI in several important international terrorism investigations during 2003. Unprecedented cooperation between the FBI and FSB was essential to the FBI's arrest in New Jersey in August 2003 of Hermant Lahkani for attempting to sell a shoulder-fi red missile to an undercover operative posing as an al-Qaida terrorist. Lahkani was indicted on 18 December 2003.
A mutual legal assistance treaty is in force and has been used effectively in some cases.
According to the Russian General Procuracy, 90 percent of terrorist acts in Russia during 2003 were committed within Chechnya and its surrounding areas. Some were directed against military or internal security forces, while others targeted specific civilians. The terrorists' strategic use of women to conduct increasingly random, indiscriminate, and sensational suicide attacks emerged as a key development in 2003. Major terrorist acts perpetrated against Russia during 2003, in chronological order:
Russia is a party to 11 of the 12 international conventions and protocols relating to terrorism. Ratification of the Convention on the Marking of Plastic Explosives for the Purpose of Detection is expected in 2004.
The Government of Tajikistan continues to be a staunch supporter of the United States in the global war on terrorism. Tajikistan does not support any terrorist groups or activities and allows its territory and air space to be used for counterterrorist actions. President Emomali Rahmonov reiterated Tajikistan's adamant opposition to terrorism and terrorist activities to the United Nations General Assembly in 2003.
On the national level, the Government continues to develop national counterterrorism legislation to supplement the Antiterrorist Law of the Republic of Tajikistan of 1999, the State Program on Strengthening the Fight against Terrorism of 2000, and the Tajik criminal code, which allows harsh punishments for acts of terrorism, including the death penalty. The Tajikistani Government closely monitors terrorist groups operating within its borders such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. In addition, Tajikistan has taken steps to combat terrorist financing by distributing lists of designated terrorist groups and individuals to local banks and other financial institutions.
On the international level, Tajikistan participates in antiterrorist initiatives advanced by the SCO and the CIS Antiterrorist Center. On 14 November 2003, Tajikistan and India created a bilateral counterterrorist working group and agreed to create an antiterrorist framework. In his address to the UN General Assembly in 2003, President Rahmonov focused on issues related to the struggle against international terrorism and ways to eradicate it. He expressed an interest in the role of narcotics trafficking in financing terrorism and called for establishing a global partnership for countering the dangers of drugs.
The United States currently provides technical aid to the antiterrorist units of the Tajikistani Government. With the assistance of the United States and other foreign countries, Tajikistan's law enforcement personnel receive training in such areas as crisis management, bomb detection, and postblast investigation. Tajikistan and Russia are joined in a bilateral effort that employs the Russian 201st Motorized Rifle Division and the Russian Border Guard Service in a counterterrorism role.
Tajikistan has not had a domestic terrorist incident since 2001. The Tajikistani Government made no requests for extradition nor extradited any suspected terrorists in 2003.
Tajikistan is a party to eight and signatory to nine of the 12 international conventions and protocols relating to terrorism.
The Government of Turkmenistan has been a member of the international Coalition against terrorism, taking action to seal its border with Afghanistan, identifying and freezing any financial assets used to support terrorism, and instituting new airport security measures. Turkmenistan is officially a neutral country and assists the Coalition in nonmilitary initiatives such as allowing the overflight of US aircraft and small "gas and go" operations in support of humanitarian relief missions in Afghanistan. The Government also participated in "Six plus Two" meetings on forming a new Afghan Government and in international donor meetings on Afghan reconstruction. Turkmen officials have made no statements in support of a terrorist-supporting country on a terrorism issue.
Turkmenistan courts carried out no prosecutions on charges of international terrorism in 2003. On 25 November 2002, an armed attack was carried out on President Niyazov's motorcade. This attack is considered by the Government to have been a case of domestic terrorism. Trials of those implicated in the plot were held in January and February 2003; international observers were not allowed to attend, and there were serious concerns about the due process accorded to defendants. All of those convicted for the attack received lengthy jail sentences.
There has been a significant change in the Government's attitude toward terrorism, specifically domestic terrorism, following the attack on President Niyazov. Measures adopted in the wake of the attack in November 2002 are ostensibly designed to "strengthen" Turkmenistan's security; however, in its implementation of the new strictures, the Government has further infringed on civil liberties and violated human rights.
Turkmenistan is a party to nine of the 12 international conventions and protocols relating to terrorism.
The fight against terrorism is a priority for the Government of Ukraine. The president, cabinet of ministers, and foreign ministry publicly condemned acts of international terrorism on several occasions. Ukraine supported both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in 2003. Ukraine is one of the largest Coalition troop providers in Iraq. Kiev does, however, maintain trade relations with several countries listed by the United States as State Sponsors of Terrorism.
Ukraine supported the Coalition in Iraq by sending a 450-member Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical remediation unit to Kuwait; elements of this group later joined the current deployment to Iraq. A 1,650-member Ukrainian brigade is now serving in the Polish-led Multinational Division. Ukraine also grants overflight rights to support counterterrorist efforts in Afghanistan, allowing approximately 2,000 overflights in 2003. Air bases in Ukraine have also been identified for emergency use by the OEF Coalition.
Significant Ukrainian legislative developments during 2003 in the fight against terrorism included adoption by the Parliament of an omnibus "Law on Combating Terrorism," adoption of a new criminal code containing Article 258 that explicitly defines terrorism, and adoption of the "Program of National Antiterrorist Measures for 2003-2005." The Parliament also passed additional legislation, including amendments that bring the law on money laundering into line with FATF requirements.
In 2003, the Government reports that Ukrainian courts carried out no prosecutions on charges of international terrorism and prosecuted only two domestic cases in which terrorism charges were filed. Ukrainian law enforcement agencies exchanged information with the Anti-Terrorism Center of the CIS and law enforcement agencies of the United States, France, Israel, Turkey, Portugal, Germany, Malaysia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Belarus, and others.
Although Article 25 of the Ukrainian constitution prohibits the extradition of Ukrainian citizens, the criminal code provides for extradition of foreigners and persons without citizenship who are not permanent residents of Ukraine. Ukrainian authorities deported several persons with suspected or alleged ties to terrorism in 2003, including several transient Chechens.
Control over the procedures for entry, departure, and stay in Ukraine for representatives of Islamic organizations and centers, including those from the Caucasus region, has been tightened. These measures include shortening the period of stay in Ukraine, expelling individuals from the country, and banning entry. The Interior Ministry is developing a database to document and register (including automated fingerprinting) persons detained for illegally crossing Ukraine's state border and/or staying illegally in Ukraine.
Pursuant to UN Security Council resolutions 1333, 1390, and 1455, Ukraine is taking measures to block the funds and other financial resources of Usama Bin Ladin and his supporters. Thus far, none have been identified. The Ministry of Finance is charged with collecting, processing, and analyzing financial transactions subject to obligatory financial monitoring. There have been problems with implementation of these provisions.
Ukraine is a full party to all 12 international conventions and protocols relating to terrorism.
Uzbekistan was among the first states to support US efforts in the global war on terrorism. President Islom Karimov consistently stresses the importance of Uzbekistani counterterrorism cooperation in both public and private venues. Uzbekistan continues to host US military forces within its borders and views the US base at Karshi-Khanabad as fundamental to Uzbekistan's support for the war on terror and central to stability in Central Asia.
Uzbekistan has played an important role in multilateral regional efforts to combat terrorism. Uzbekistan has recently engaged with Kazakhstan 40 and Kyrgyzstan on antiterrorist issues, especially those related to the IMU. In August 2003, Tashkent was designated as the location for a Shanghai Cooperation Organization Regional Anti-Terrorism Center. Uzbekistan publicly condemns state sponsors of terrorism, despite the presence of Iranian and North Korean diplomatic missions in Tashkent.
The Karimov regime is concerned with the threat posed by the IMU, presently operating primarily outside its borders. The Government of Kazakhstan recently extradited two IMU members to Uzbekistan.
Uzbekistan continues to make countering terrorism and antiregime threats a high priority. Tashkent mounted robust efforts in 2003 to limit the destabilizing effects of militant Islam by further securing its borders, identifying extremists, and conducting arrests of suspected radicals and terrorists. Uzbekistani prosecutors obtained more than 100 convictions in 2003 for actions that fell under the Uzbekistani criminal code for terrorist or extremist activity, as well as more than 600 other prosecutions under a less stringent Uzbekistani administrative code that, nevertheless, allows for detention of up to three years. The Government of Uzbekistan did not adopt any new antiterrorism laws in 2003. One high-profile prosecution is the recent sentencing of IMU member Azizbek Karimov, who admitted to planning attacks against the US Embassy in neighboring Kyrgyzstan.
Uzbekistan is signatory to all 12 international conventions and protocols relating to terrorism.