Office of the Spokesman

September 15, 2000


The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) is a coalition of Islamic
militants from Uzbekistan and other Central Asian states who oppose
the current Uzbek regime. They seek to overthrow the existing
government by force and to establish an Islamic state in Uzbekistan.
To this end, IMU leader Tohir Yuldashev has declared a "jihad" or
"holy war" against the Government of Uzbekistan. The IMU was founded
in 1996. Its members include individuals who fought in Tajikistan's
1992-97 civil war. Since early 1999, its activities have become more
violent, to include bombings and kidnappings.

Since the mid-1990's, IMU fighters have trained in camps in
Afghanistan, some controlled by Usama Bin Laden. It receives
assistance from the Taliban and other groups and individuals based in
Afghanistan and elsewhere.

The IMU has a clear record of terrorist activity including car
bombings in Tashkent, which killed 16 people, and the seizure of
numerous hostages, including four American mountain climbers in
August. The Americans were able to escape after being held hostage for
six days in August 2000.

The main goal of the IMU is to topple the current government in
Uzbekistan by creating domestic and regional instability. Such
instability threatens important economic and commercial interests in
the region. The United States actively supports the peace process in
Tajikistan that ended the civil war there, a process the IMU opposes.

The IMU is not the only group to oppose the current government of
Uzbekistan. However, they are the only group that has resorted to
terrorism to achieve their goals, the only group to actively threaten
US interests, and the only group to have attacked American citizens.
Our policy is cognizant of the difference between terrorism and
legitimate opposition, and our designation of the IMU as a terrorist
organization fully reflects this distinction.

The United States supports the right of Uzbekistan to defend its
sovereignty and territorial integrity from the violent actions of the
IMU, and commends the measures in the course of the current incursions
to minimize casualties and ensure the protection of innocent