QUBODIYON, February 16, 2012, Asia-Plus  -- A court in Khatlon’s Qubodyon district is considering criminal proceedings instituted against two residents of the village of Qizil Nishon in the Yangiyul jamoat -  Ibrohim Qurbonov and Akmal Rashitov.  They are charged with membership in the banned Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU).

The trial began on February 15.  Proceedings started with the reading of the indictment, which charges Qurbonov and Rashitov with organizing a criminal grouping (Article 187 (2) of Tajikistan’s Penal Code) and organizing an extremist group (Article 307 (2) of Tajikistan’s Penal Code).

Judge Davlatmand Rahimov, who is presiding over the trial, noted that Akmal Rashitov and Ibrohim Qurbonov were arrested on September 15, 2011.  When searching Rashitov’s house, security officers found 12 CDs containing IMU’s extremist ideology and propaganda materials, the judge said.

Meanwhile, Rashitov and Qurbonov do not admit charges brought against them.  Akmal Rashitov, in particular, noted that he did not know that the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan is banned in Tajikistan as an extremist and terrorist organization.

We will recall that another resident of the village of Qizil Nishon – Bakhtiyor Umarov, 26, who is also an alleged IMU activist – was extradited by the Pakistani authorities to Tajikistan on February 3.  

The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) is a militant Islamist group formed in 1991 by the Islamic ideologue Tahir Yuldashev, and former Soviet paratrooper Juma Namangani -- both ethnic Uzbeks from the Ferghana Valley. Its objective was to overthrow President Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan, and to create an Islamic state under Sharia.

Operating out of bases in Taliban-controlled areas of northern Afghanistan, the IMU launched a series of raids into southern Kyrgyzstan in 1999 and 2000.  However, in 2001 the IMU was largely destroyed while fighting alongside the Taliban against coalition forces in Afghanistan. Namangani was killed, and the IMU''s remaining fighters were dispersed. Yuldashev and an unknown number of fighters escaped with remnants of the Taliban to Waziristan in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan. Since then the IMU has reportedly opened training camps in Waziristan and is now involved with other groups attempting to overthrow the government of Pakistan. Yuldashev was killed in a US Predator drone air strike.  U.S. and Pakistan officials confirmed Yuldashev was killed in an air strike on August 27, 2009.  On August 17, 2010 Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan announced its new leader -- Abu Usman Adil.