Overview: The Taliban takeover of Kabul heightened the Government of Uzbekistan’s concerns about the potential spillover of terrorism from Afghanistan and its Central Asian neighbors, particularly by ISIS-Khorasan Province, as well as Islamic Jihad Union, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Katibat al-Imam al-Bukhari, and Jamaat Ansarullah. Terrorism and violent extremism concerns regarding Uzbekistani migrant laborers abroad and ISIS fighters returning from Iraq and Syria persisted. The government continued to repatriate FTF family members. Uzbekistan increased efforts to counter terrorist use of the internet for radicalization to violence, recruitment, and training. The government finalized and approved its first national CT/CVE strategy and national AML/CFT strategy. Uzbekistan continued active regional and international security cooperation. Uzbekistan remained an active participant in the C5+1 diplomatic platform and related CT/CVE cooperation; Uzbekistani ministries, agencies, civil societies, and non-governmental organizations coordinated with the U.S. Departments of Energy, Defense, and State, and the U.S. Agency for International Development on various CT and CVE initiatives.
2021 Terrorist Incidents: There were no terrorist incidents in Uzbekistan in 2021.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Uzbekistan’s first “National Strategy on Countering Extremism and Terrorism for 2021-26” targeted cyber, prosecutorial, and regulatory and legislative framework improvements. The Law on Combating Terrorism governs terrorism-related investigations and prosecutions and identifies the State Security Service (DXX) as the lead CT law enforcement agency. The national CT/CVE strategy charges Prime Minister Aripov and National Security Council Secretary Viktor Makhmudov with implementation and requires ministries, DXX, and the Security Council to submit biannual updates for presidential review. DXX, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and the National Guard have dedicated CT units.
Uzbekistani law enforcement tracks terrorist data and contributes to INTERPOL databases, including the SLTD database, through the I-24/7 network and its INTERPOL National Central Bureau. Most official land and air border crossings are equipped with biometric data scanners. Uzbekistan implemented an ID card system to replace biometric passports and reported the development of an API/PNR system in line with requirements under UNSCRs 2309 and 2396.
Uzbekistan repatriated 93 FTF family members — 62 children, including seven orphans, and 24 women — from Syria in the Mehr-5 operation. The Government of Uzbekistan continued to reintegrate FTF family members into their home communities and identified suitable families for many unaccompanied minors. In close cooperation with UNICEF, the government monitored returnees’ progress and provided a mix of national- and local-level rehabilitation and reintegration medical, psychological, administrative, social, educational, religious, and financial services.
Uzbekistani law enforcement announced several arrests related to terrorism and violent extremism. Changes in Afghanistan’s border security and migration patterns complicated efforts to deter and prevent terrorist travel; after August, the government cooperated with the Taliban on border security and terrorist apprehension.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Uzbekistan’s FIU is an Egmont Group member. Uzbekistan belongs to the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism (EAG), which submitted its draft regional risk assessment report at the 35th plenary in November. The Academy of the General Prosecutor’s Office hosted an international conference on legal science and education, where the EAG Secretariat presented a report on the importance of legislative establishment and financial investigation procedure regulation to AML/CFT.
Uzbekistan’s new national AML/CFT strategy targeted prosecution and accountability improvements and required Uzbekistan to bring the national AML/CFT/counter-WMD proliferation financing system in line with international FATF standards. Uzbekistan amended legislation to outline and adjust AML/CFT reporting procedures and approved regulations for suspending and resuming operations and freezing the assets of individuals participating or suspected of participating in terrorism or WMD proliferation. The events in Afghanistan presented new challenges on money laundering, arms trafficking, and narcotrafficking.
Countering Violent Extremism: President Shavkat Mirziyoyev issued a decree to strengthen efforts to prevent and counter online violent extremism and terrorist ideology. According to the government, Uzbekistan amended legislation and updated the law “On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations” to counter radicalization to violence and terrorist recruitment. For further information, see the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report.
The Government of Uzbekistan reported empowering Imam-khatibs to lead CVE conversations in mosques, educational institutions, and labor collectives; youth leaders to facilitate communication between vulnerable youth and community leadership; and assisting vulnerable youth through business and entrepreneurship financing. The government and non-governmental organizations continued to use advertisements, countermessaging campaigns, and training to prevent radicalization of at-risk citizens and labor migrants. Official media continued posting about the dangers of “extremism.”
The Government of Uzbekistan continued its active role in the C5+1 regional CVE and FTF framework through virtual and hybrid CVE and repatriation workshops, online youth resilience building, and community leader and rehabilitation and reintegration care provider trainings.
International and Regional Cooperation: Uzbekistan’s multilateral CT/CVE engagements included the following:
- Presented at a UN Counter-Terrorism Committee roundtable on national CT/CVE action plan implementation.
- Supported the fourth phase of the UN regional counterterrorism strategy implementation project.
- Hosted Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism;
- AML/CFT training and discussions with the EU’s Law Enforcement in Central Asia project.
- Collaborated with the OSCE Action Against Terrorism Unit and participating in a virtual regional OSCE expert dialogue on FTF repatriation.
- Presented at a Defeat-ISIS Coalition Counter-ISIS Financing Working Group.
Uzbekistan, the 2021-22 Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Chair, participated in the SCO Regional Antiterrorist Structure Joint Antiterrorist Exercises. The country remained engaged in CT-related activities with the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), of which Uzbekistan has not been a member since 2012. Uzbekistan participated in a joint counterterrorism military exercise in India; joint CSTO counterterrorism military exercises with Tajikistan and Russia near the Afghan border; and the SCO Peace Mission 2021 counterterrorism military exercise in Russia. Uzbekistani law enforcement cooperates on terrorism detection and investigation with foreign countries.