U.S. Adds Islamic Jihad Group to Terrorism List
Posted: June 3, 2005
The group thought to be responsible for last year's lethal suicide bombings of the U.S. embassy, the Israeli embassy and the Uzbek prosecutor general's office in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, has been officially designated by the U.S. State Department as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) organization.
Active in Central Asia, but primarily Uzbekistan, the Islamic Jihad Group seeks to overthrow Uzbek president Islam Karimov and establish an Islamic government in the region. The designation, made on May 12, 2005, allows the U.S. to prevent the movement of the group's members and to seize its financial assets within the country.
An offshoot of the radical Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (which has been designated an FTO), the Islamic Jihad Group established its presence in March 2004 by blowing up a house in Bukhara, Uzbekistan, killing 10 people. According to the State Department, the terrorist organization subsequently conducted a series of attacks across Uzbekistan, including the bombing of a crowded bazaar in Tashkent. Among the attackers were the first female suicide bombers to appear in Central Asia. By the close of April 2004, the group had killed over a dozen police officers and civilians and wounded many more.
In statements posted to a Web site known for its militant Islamic content, the Islamic Jihad Group reportedly declared that its suicide bombings would not stop. The attacks, the statement said, "are directed against the injustice of [Karimov's government] and in support of our Muslim brethren in Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan, Hijaz (Saudi Arabia) and other Islamic countries ruled by apostates."
Though relatively small in the number of casualties caused, the Islamic Jihad Group's most infamous attack occurred on July 30, 2004, when it detonated simultaneous bombs in Tashkent at three locations: the Israeli embassy, the U.S. embassy, and the Uzbek prosecutor general's office building. At least two people died and nine were wounded. The Uzbek prosecutor general had been trying 15 people accused of orchestrating the series of attacks in the spring of 2004.
According to former State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher, the Islamic Jihad Group poses a serious and credible threat to Americans and U.S. interests in Central Asia. He stated that Islamic Jihad Group leaders have said that the group is closely tied to Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden and that Al Qaeda has allegedly provided the Islamic Jihad Group's followers with explosives training. Boucher also claimed that the organization has connections with former Taliban chief Mullah Omar.