In Kyrgyzstan, Hizb-ut-Tahrir is growing: AP profiles Hizb-ut-Tahrir activist Dilyar Jumabayev, beginning with a poster he has displayed outside his house, which says: “All Muslims of the world unite against the infidels.”
“‘Through his black beard, Jumabayev shows an easy smile, but his words are vehement. ‘Muslims now realize who their enemies are. The United States and Britain want Muslims to fight against each other,’ he said.
“Jumabayev, 32, is a member of the secretive Islamic organization Hizb ut-Tahrir, or Party of Liberation, which is spreading across Central Asia. The growth is believed fueled in part by secular governments’ heavy-handed efforts here to crack down on what has become the largest such extremist movement in the region. It has as many as 20,000 members.
“Hizb ut-Tahrir is not recognized as a terrorist group by the United States and is so far not connected to any acts of violence. But Kyrgyz security officials warn that it has become a fertile recruiting ground for al-Qaida and its allies, such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, although they often fail to provide hard evidence proving such ties. . . .
“Hizb ut-Tahrir was founded in the 1950s in the Middle East and calls for an Islamic caliphate, or state, to be set up across Central Asia. It claims to eschew violence, setting it apart from other groups to which governments allege it is linked.
“Since the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union, Hizb ut-Tahrir has found fertile ground for expansion in the Muslim countries of Central Asia, capitalizing on the discontent of many in their newly independent countries. . . . The number of Hizb ut-Tahrir members in the two southern Kyrgyz regions where the group is most active rose from 1,393 to 1,598 since last year, according to police figures obtained by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. The group is also believed to be spreading to the north beyond its traditional base in the conservative Fergana Valley, and is also active in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
“In Kara-Suu, Hizb ut-Tahrir member Jumabayev said he doesn’t disagree with the IMU terror group or even al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden: ‘He is certainly my brother. Saddam Hussein is also my brother. No matter whether he is Arab, Kurd, Turk or Palestinian, he is also Muslim,’ he said.
“Still, Jumabayev firmly disavowed violence, which he called a ‘sin.’ ‘It’s easy to kill,’ he said, recalling his time in the Soviet army when he was sent off to Azerbaijan where soldiers violently quelled mass protests in the late 1980s amid the Soviet collapse.
“A trader and tailor, Jumabayev joined Hizb ut-Tahrir three years ago because it ‘explained the meaning of life.’ He now said he pays one-tenth of his income for membership and belongs to a five-person cell. Jumabayev said they don’t have to look hard for new members: The government condemnations draw people’s natural curiosity. Although Jumabayev said upper leaders denied him permission to speak to an American reporter because he was the ‘enemy,’ Jumabayev spoke freely and said he wasn’t afraid of retribution for his beliefs — even claiming to be ready to make the ultimate sacrifice.
“‘My daughter asks me when I will enter heaven and my son asks when I will become a martyr,’ he said.” Hmm. I thought he disavowed violence.