The Organization for Security and
Co-operation in Europe and the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime have hosted a conference
focussing on fighting terrorism and organized crime. Experts from more than a
dozen organizations met to exchange ideas on increasing border security from
Afghanistan through Central Asia to Europe.
Among the conference delegates were representatives from the Shanghai Cooperation
Organization who are concerned with the fight against organized crime in Central
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization includes China, Russia, and the Central
Asian states of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Its main
headquarters is in Beijing.
Turkmenistan, which has a long border with Afghanistan, is not a member -
preferring under its ruler Saparmurat Niayzov to follow a policy of so-called
Experts see strengthening borders in Central Asia as one of the first lines
of defense in protecting Europe and countries like Iran from drug trafficking
and organized crime.
The organization established a new counter-terrorism office this year in
the Uzbek capital, Tashkent, that is concerned with reducing ethnic and religious
tensions in the region.
Shanghai Cooperation Organization Deputy Director Jenisbek Jumanbekov told
VOA that Uzbekistan is a target for Islamic extremists.
"This is a religious movement, a fundamental radical movement which as we
know from investigations conducted was responsible for the deadly blasts and
terror attacks in March and April and the recent bombings of embassies in Uzbekistan," he
said. "Their goal is to overthrow the government and establish their caliphate
In July, terrorists bombed the U.S. and Israeli embassies in Tashkent.
But radical Islamic groups have denied responsibility, saying they seek peaceful
means to achieve their goals. Mr. Jumanbekov says groups like the Islamic Movement
of Uzbekistan operate from outside the country.
"The recent court case, which involved 15 detained people, showed that most
of them are of Uzbek origin but they have received training and help from al
Qaida and other organizations who are mostly based on the territory of Pakistan," he
said. "They have training camps there and that is where they get their training,
support, and funding."
Mr. Jumanbekov says the terrorists moved to Pakistan after fleeing from Afghanistan
with the fall of the Taleban.