An attack on Kampala showed that al-Shabaab is capable of extending the conflict and involving neighbouring countries. Al-Shabaab has already indicated that Burundi would be its next target. The African Union (AU) needs to increase AMISOM’s strength to enable it to counter al-Shabaab offensive. According to reports, Djibouti, Uganda and Burundi were ready to contribute more troops; but so far, al-Shabaab is calling the shots.
Turbulence in Tajikistan
In Tajikistan, Islamic militants recently ambushed a military convoy, killing 25 soldiers and wounding another 20. It seems that fundamentalist forces in Tajikistan are being assisted by the Afghan Taliban militants across the porous borders. In August, militants linked to al-Qaeda killed six prison guards and broke out of jail in Dushanbe. During this month, a suicide bomber killed 2 policemen and wounded 25 at a police station in Northern Tajikistan and bombed a Dushanbe nightclub, wounding 6 people. Veterans from Tajikistan’s civil war and a new generation of militants drawing inspiration from al-Qaeda seem to be behind these attacks.
“These are still incredibly porous borders, and there are numerous places where it is quite easy for groups, organisations, individuals, to cross,” said Kelvin Jones, a keen observer of the scene in Tajikistan. “So the ability to move from northern Afghanistan to parts of eastern Tajikistan, to parts of southern Tajikistan is quite easy.”
“There is a new generation of Islamists,” International Crisis Group Central Asia analyst Paul Quinn Judge notes. “People who do not see that the state is offering them any role in life in Tajikistan, and who are looking at what is happening in Afghanistan, and I suspect in the North Caucasus, and seeing that as the real model for them.”
Many new mosques have come up recently in Dushanbe, and the rules of Shariat are being propagated from there. It seems the radicalisation of Tajik society is underway in an organised way, and this may soon pose a new challenge to this region. The head of research at the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Diplomatic Academy, Yevgeny Bazhanov, warns that Islamic radicalism could spread through Central Asia into Russia.4 In these circumstances, it is necessary for the U.S. and Russia to cooperate to stem the tide of radical Islam threatening the region.
Notes and references
- Meenakshi Ganguly. “Letter From Srinagar: What Lies Behind the Resurgent Violence in Kashmir?” Foreign Affairs Magazine, 3 September 2010.
- Ken Menkhaus and Christopher Boucek. “Terrorism Out of Somalia.” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 23 September 2010. <http://www.carnegieendowment.org/publications/index.cfm?fa=view&id=41612> (accessed 30 September 2010).
- International Crisis Group. “Somalia’s Divided Islamists.” Africa Briefing N°74, 18 May 2010. <http:www.crisisgroup.org/en/regions/africa/horn-of-africa/somalia/B074-somalias-divided-islamists.aspx>. (accessed 30 September 2010).
- James Brooke. Moscow NEWS.COM VOICE OF AMERICA. Washington Post <http://voices.washingtonpost.com/blog-post/2010/09/the_war_in_afghanistan_what_s.html>. 20 September 2010.