With the US military ensconced in Uzbek bases, the Central Asian nation's president, Islam Karimov, has proclaimed Uzbekistan safe from incursions by Islamic militants this summer. However, authorities remain concerned about Islamic radicals, especially those affiliated with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU). Some regional analysts say the IMU is now regrouping after suffering substantial loses during the US-led offensive against terrorism in Afghanistan.
Official anxiety over the IMU's combat capabilities is heightened by the uncertainty surrounding the fate of Juma Namangani, the movement's military leader. Namangani was initially reported killed in November during the anti-terrorism blitz in northern Afghanistan. [For more information see the Eurasia Insight archive>]. But several local media outlets, including the Megapolis newspaper in Kazakhstan, have reported in recent months that Namangani is alive. "Reports of his death
Artie McConnell is a Central Asian affairs analyst currently based in Moscow.