By Aziz Soltobaev, American University in Kyrgyzstan (08/16/2000 issue of the CACI Analyst)

Five international terrorists were sentenced
to long term imprisonment in Kyrgyzstan for organizing several terrorist acts in the Osh
oblast in which several people were killed. On May 31, 1999, an explosion ripped through a
bus full of passengers in Osh, Kyrygyzstan. Three women died from multiple wounds. At the
site of the tragedy, investigators found splinters from gas canisters. At first,
investigators thought that the blast was caused by an accidental explosion of a gas
canister during its transport. But, after detailed inspection of the site, the strength
and direction of the explosion pointed to a possible terrorist act. Eyewitnesses of the
tragedy stated that a young man dressed in a black jacket despite the heat of the day,
boarded the bus and got off a few minutes before the explosion. A sketch of his likeness
and the search started.

On June 1, a second explosion shattered Osh. A 32-year-old man and his pregnant wife
died in the yard of their private home. The death was an accident caused after terrorists
left a duffle bag with explosives inside a bus which passengers gave over to the driver.
The driver asked a friend to return it to a merchant who sells such bags. The salesman of
such bags, was involved in the bombing and did not claim the bag. The friend gave it to
his son who opened it upon returning home and was blown up. After analysis of the
character of the explosions, experts concluded that the detonator was a self-made tension
device. It seems that terrorists expected that the bag would interests passengers and
would lead them to blow up the bus. In the first terrorist act, a self-made mortar shell
with detonator-timer had been used in the explosion.

The group involved in these terrorist acts was made up of three citizens of the
Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China, a citizen of Turkey and a citizen of Russia,
who is Karachaev by nationality. The three Uyghurs, Askar Tahti, Ayli Maysum, and Bahran
Alimov are members of an extremist separatist organization called "Free
Turkestan." They entered into Kyrgyzstan by illegally crossing the
Xinjiang-Kyrgyzstan border and lived in Central Asia using falsified documents. The
objective of the "Free Trukestan" organization is to establish a so-called
independent state of Uyghurstan in the borderlands of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and
Uzbekistan. The Turkish citizen, Genan Ahmet is a member of the international extremist
organization called "Bozkurt." The fifth member of band, Nazir Chochaev, was
wanted by special investigation agencies in Russia for his previous crimes including
participating in the slave trade in Chechnya. Some Russian agents maintain that he trained
in the Chechen extremist camps in Serjeny-Yuta village of Chechnya, though other agents
insist his activities in Central Asia were sponsored by the warlord Hattab to inculcate
militant ideas of wahhabism in the region.

Chief of Kyrgyzstan’s Investigation Center of the Ministry of National Safety,
Kurmanbek Tuybaev, reported that during the bombing investigation there seemed to be
various reasons for the acts. When investigators revealed who the terrorists were, it
turned out that Osh had been specifically chosen for terrorist acts. One of the reasons
given for the violence was vengeance. Two years ago in Bishkek, a group of wahhabis were
detained suspected in several violent crimes. They possessed guns, literature and
bulletins which called for creating on the territory of Central Asia an "Islamic
State" and proclaim a "jihad" against the faithless and the Central Asian
officials who are huge obstacles to the penetration of radical Islam. The band was
sentenced to long periods of confinement. The vengeance of militant Islam was terrible.
Officers still can not exclude the possibility that after imprisoning these five
terrorists that the safety situation in the south of Kyrgyzstan might worsen.

Aziz Soltobaev, American University in Kyrgyzstan