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Low Threat Of Terrorism In Central Asia

A view of Bukhara, Uzbekistan, Central Asia, one of the ancient cities sitting on the famed Silk Road. (File)

“We do not assess that there is an imminent Islamist militant threat to Central Asian states.”

The United States has concluded that while the approaching draw-down of Coalition forces from Afghanistan, projected to end in 2014, will undoubtedly impact the entire Central Asian region, it will not increase the threat of attacks by militants.

Low Threat Of Terrorism In Central Asia
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“We do not assess that there is an imminent Islamist militant threat to Central Asian states,” said Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert O. Blake, Jr.

“The most capable terrorist groups with links to Central Asia. . . . remain focused on operations in western Pakistan and Afghanistan, where they fight U.S., coalition, and local security forces,” said State Department Bureau of Counterterrorism Deputy Coordinator for Regional Affairs and Programs Justin Siberell. [Sibb-er-ELL]

“Ultimately, counterterrorism and rule of law goals are closely aligned and mutually reinforcing. The better our partners become at using law enforcement tools to identify, disrupt, and then prosecute, adjudicate, and incarcerate suspected terrorists,” the less they need to worry and crack down on a domestic threat.

For that reason, the United States sponsors in the five Central Asian countries a number of counter-terrorism-centered programs that will help them develop law enforcement capacity and capability within the rule of law framework.

“Our assistance focuses on regional counterterrorism cooperation,” said Deputy Coordinator Siberell. Through the Central Asia Regional Strategic Initiative, or RSI, the government of Uzbekistan will have access to the FBI’s Automated Fingerprint Information System. Tajikistan and the Kyrgyz Republic are cooperating on a community policing project that will encourage counter-terrorism cooperation in their border areas. Kazakh officials are learning new cross-border financial investigation techniques that will help them disrupt terrorist finance flows. Turkmenistan, along with its four Central Asian neighbors, is participating in a program to develop legislation that will implement United Nations conventions related to terrorism.

“The limited threat currently posed by Islamist militants to Central Asia, however, is no reason for complacency or retreat,” said Assistant Secretary Robert Blake. “The Central Asian states face a broad range of challenges that, as in many other societies, could fuel radicalism in the long run and threaten the security and interests of the United States and our allies.

“Addressing those challenges demands our continued vigilance and engagement in this region.”