Islamic radicals are having a major problem recruiting in Central Asia. The region is Moslem, but there is no tradition of Islamic radicalism. In Tajikistan, for example, this has led to arresting bearded men, or at least making sure their ID card pictures included the beard. Centuries of Russian domination have made Islamic lifestyle alien to Central Asian peoples and forced Islamic groups to stress unemployment and economic issues as a primary recruiting tool. Madrassas (religious schools) are key recruiting sources in most of the Islamic world, but in Central Asia, there are few of these schools and they are closely watched by police. Tajikistan believes Islamic radicals are supporting themselves by aiding drug smugglers (moving heroin and other drugs out of Afghanistan). The presence of Tajik, Uzbek, and Kyrgyz minorities in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan is also a continuing source of disorder, and sometimes a recruiting opportunity for Islamic radicals.
One exceptions is the Fergana Valley. This area is one of the most agriculturally productive, and densely populated, in the region. Portions of the valley are shared by Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan, and has long been an incubator of Islamic radicals, and ethnic disputes. Many of the Islamic radicals in the valley and Tajikistan are from the IMU (Islamic Union of Uzbekistan), which has been active since 1991, mainly in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
January 14, 2011: Tajikistan has paid for Chinese economic, and other aid, by settling a 130 year old border dispute with China. This involves a thousand kilometer long border, along which Tajik has surrendered 143,000 square kilometers (55,000 square miles). This is .78 percent of Tajikistan's territory. While many Tajiks are unhappy with this, most see friendship with, and economic benefits from, their huge neighbor to be worth it.
Iran has been aiding (openly and covertly) the Shia minority (about ten percent) in Tajikistan. Shia missionaries have also converted many Sunni Tajiks. This causes more violence with Sunni Islamic radicals, who consider Shia heretics. The Shia consider the Sunnis misguided and in need of Shia leadership. Iran is also exploiting the fact that Tajiks and Iranians are both Indo-European peoples, and have long been in conflict with Turkic groups like the Uzbeks, and Kyrgyz.
January 7, 2011: Some ten kilometers from Kyrgyzstan's capital, police killed two and captured one Islamic terrorists. One policemen died. These Islamic radicals were believed responsible for earlier attacks on police and working with the Islamic Union of Uzbekistan to carry out terror attacks.
January 4, 2011: In Kyrgyzstan's capital, a group of Islamic terrorists killed three policemen. In Tajikistan, police killed eight Islamic terrorists, believed part of a group that killed 25 soldiers last September. Both that ambush and today's operation took place east of the capital in the Rasht Valley
December 24, 2010: In Kyrgyzstan, police found and disarmed a car bomb parked near a police headquarters in the capital.
December 17, 2010: Two months after national elections, the three of the five victorious parties agreed to a coalition deal and formed a government.