Insights into the Khujand Bombing

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Khujand, Tajikistan — Sources in Tajikistan’s second largest city offer conflicting motives for the suicide bombing that killed 25 people at a local Interior Ministry (MVD) station in September 2010. Officials say the perpetrator was wanted by police for kidnapping and other violent crimes. Others say he was a devout Muslim who sought revenge after being abused by an MVD antiterrorism unit.

Despite these conflicting stories, however, my sources generally agreed that the suicide bomber fled to Afghanistan with his brother. They also believe that the perpetrator was trained in bomb making by the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (…IMU) in Afghanistan, and that he assembled his weapon from commercially available materials—a fact that would demonstrate a relative high degree of technical proficiency. Finally, my sources reported that the perpetrator’s brother (also an alleged IMU militant) was captured by the Afghan National Police (ANP) in northern Afghanistan prior to the September 2010 suicide bombing.

Although many of these sources had different opinions about the merits of Tajik counter-terrorism policies, their agreement on some of the underlying facts suggests that some radical Tajik militants have forged a relationship with the IMU. …More significantly, it indicates that some of these militants are active in Northern Tajikistan, hundred of kilometers away from the Tajik-Afghan border. Even if the Khujand bombing was an isolated incident, it demonstrates the ease with which radicalized individuals from the Fergana Valley can travel to and from the Afghanistan-Pakistan theatre.