Uzbekistan

Overview:  At least one attempted rocket attack on Uzbekistan from the territory of Afghanistan heightened Uzbekistan’s concerns about the potential spillover of terrorist activity from its neighbors.  The main terrorist group of concern for Uzbekistan is ISIS-K, with additional concerns regarding Katibat al Tawhid wal Jihad (KTJ), the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Katibat al-Imam al-Bukhari, the Islamic Jihad Union, and Jamaat Ansarullah.  President Mirziyoyev publicly called on the Taliban to cut ties with terrorist groups.  Concerns continued over terrorism and violent extremism (VE) linked to foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs) returning from Syria and Uzbekistani migrant laborers abroad.  The government began implementing its first national CT/CVE strategy and national Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism strategy and continued rehabilitation and reintegration (R&R) of repatriated FTF-associated family members.  Uzbekistan continued active regional security cooperation, including through the C5+1 diplomatic platform.  Uzbekistani ministries, agencies, civil society, and NGOs coordinated with the U.S. Departments of Energy, Defense, Justice, and State as well as USAID on various CT and Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism initiatives.

2022 Terrorist Incidents:  On April 18, ISIS-K claimed it fired 10 rockets from Afghanistan at an Uzbekistani military base in Termez, Surkhandarya, in southern Uzbekistan.  Media suggested the group fired 10 rockets from the Afghan border town of Hairatan.  The Government of Uzbekistan (GOU) refuted the reports and refused to categorize the incident as an attempted attack on Uzbekistan.  No injuries were reported.

On July 5 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported five rockets were fired from Afghanistan toward Termez.  The attack damaged a small amount of residential infrastructure; no people were injured.  By the end of 2022 the GOU reported it would not decide whether to classify the incident as a terrorist attack until the end of an ongoing investigation into the incident.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security:  The GOU drafted its action plan for 2022-25 on the reintegration of returnees from northeast Syria and released a law on infrastructure security.  Government officials reported they are developing Uzbekistan’s first national action plan on the implementation of UNSCR 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security.

Uzbekistan continued implementing an identification card system to replace biometric internal passports.  Citizens caught without valid passports or ID cards are administratively liable for a fine between $13-$80.

Uzbekistan did not repatriate additional FTFs or associated family members in 2022; up to 200 FTFs and associated family members likely remain in northeast Syria.  The government continued to monitor returnees’ progress and provide R&R services to returnees.  The GOU does not permit substantial third-party monitoring of detention facilities.

Law enforcement detained several groups and cells allegedly recruiting members and financing terrorist groups — mainly ISIS and KTJ.  Several citizens were detained on VE charges after returning from Syria, and courts tried at least 40 citizens for planning to join terrorist groups in Syria.  Uzbekistani and Turkish authorities coordinated on the arrest and deportation of an Uzbekistani national accused of plotting a terrorist attack in Istanbul.  Despite the conclusion of multiple CT investigations, corruption continued to impede more effective law enforcement.  Hesitancy to share information with interagency, regional, and international counterparts also impeded more-effective border security.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism:  Uzbekistan is a member of the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism (EAG), and its FIU, the Department on Struggle Against Tax Currency Crimes and Legalization of Criminal Incomes at the General Prosecutor’s Office, is a member of the Egmont Group.  Uzbekistan underwent a mutual evaluation in 2022.  The EAG found that Uzbekistani authorities are well-aware of terrorist financing (TF) risks, with good progress on mitigation.  The report recommended improving domestic TF threat and instance identification, prioritizing parallel financial investigations, enhancing sanctions mechanisms and referrals, regularly updating the list of designated terrorist organizations and its national risk assessment, and improving access to threat information.  The EAG identified the movement of funds through intermediaries, payment systems, online bank cards, and money remittance systems, along with the purchase of airline tickets and other travel documents for FTFs as the main methods of TF.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2022 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.

Countering Violent Extremism:  The government and non-governmental organizations continued to use advertisements, counter messaging campaigns, and training to prevent radicalization to violence and terrorist radicalization of at-risk nationals and labor migrants.  Law enforcement shut down channels for spreading VE propaganda and promoting terrorism on social media, particularly on the popular Telegram messaging application.  The government continued to restrict certain forms of political and religious expression in the name of countering broadly defined “extremism.”  Law enforcement reported providing R&R assistance to pardoned Uzbekistani citizens, partly to mitigate vulnerability to radicalization to violence.

The GOU continued its active role in the C5+1 regional CVE and FTF framework through virtual and hybrid CVE, repatriation, and R&R meetings and workshops; through online youth resilience building; and through community leader and R&R care provider training.

International and Regional Cooperation:  Uzbekistan’s multilateral CT/CVE engagements included the following (with organizer[s] in parentheses):

  • The ministerial conference on developing a Joint Plan of Action for the implementation of the Global Counterterrorism Strategy in Central Asia (GOU, UN)
  • The Counterterrorism cooperation roadmap (UNOCT)
  • Third-country nationals returned from Syria and Iraq project (UNOCT, the UN Counterterrorism Center, UNICEF)
  • The assessment, training plan, and conference on gender-sensitive approaches to the R&R of FTFs and their family members (the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, UNODC, UNICEF)
  • The Strategic Concept Workshop (NATO)
  • The Cross-Border and Cross-Sector Dialogue for Tolerance and Peace in Central Asia project (UNOCT, EU)
  • The Countering Trafficking of Afghan Narcotics and Synthetic Drugs in Uzbekistan through the Establishment of Interagency Mobile Teams project (UNODC)
  • Law Enforcement in Central Asia and Border Management in Central Asia programs (EU)
  • The Enhancing Border Management and Security in Response to Terrorism Threats in Central Asia program (UNODC)
  • The 17th Conference of the Central Asian Border Management Initiative (UNODC, OSCE)
  • The 36th EAG Plenary Meeting (GOU, EAG)
  • The Legalization of the Proceeds of Criminal Activities and Financing of Terrorism international conference (EAG, OSCE)

Through the SCO Regional Antiterrorist Structure (RATS SCO) framework, Uzbekistan participated in regional CT activities — including the Manesar Antiterror 2022 joint exercise hosted by the National Security Guard of India.  Uzbekistan established a joint security commission with Iran to counter terrorism, “extremism,” and other transnational organized crimes.  It also joined the first Central Asia-India Meeting of Secretaries of Security Councils.  Uzbekistani law enforcement cooperates on terrorism detection and investigation with foreign countries.

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