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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

April 11, 2003

The Terrorist Notebooks

During the mid-1990s, a group of young Uzbeks went to school to learn how to kill you. Here is what they were taught.Terrorism, we learn, is "taught" beyond the ME. This extract (full piece requries subscription) from Foreign Policy indicates some "lessons." Unfortunately FP does not make clear that previously Muslims in this Central Asian region were moderate till Saudi Arabia began funding their own state-accepted brand of fundamentalism--Wahhabism--preaching hate and terror (see Ahmed Rashid, JIHAD)
The world of a young man recruited for jihad or holy war is a frightening one. His training teaches hatred in the name of religious purification. He learns to divide people into those who embrace the true faith and properly follow its precepts and those who do not. His former colleagues and neighbors become enemies he must destroy with deadly weapons he learns to fashion out of everyday objects.

That reality describes the world of a group of Central Asians, mostly Uzbek by nationality, who went through local terrorist schools in the mid-1990s. Their course of study is laid out in 10 remarkable notebooks we acquired in 2001–2002. Covering topics such as the use of weapons, the making of poison, and the ideology of jihad, the notebooks offer a unique window into a frightening mind-set that predates the expansion of Osama bin Laden’s network in the region and still holds sway in much of Central Asia.

References in the notebooks suggest that much of this training took place in Uzbekistan’s Fergana Valley. Long a center of Islamic revival in the region, the Fergana Valley is a mix of scrub desert, low hills, and lush oases. It is the most densely populated area of Central Asia and one of the most densely populated regions in the world. Throughout Soviet rule, the valley was home to a host of underground mosques and religious “schools” that thrived even as Islamic teachings were banned or restricted. When the Soviet Union began to collapse, graduates of these schools played an important role in the revival of Islam in Central Asia, as thousands of new mosques and religious schools opened. Clerics who preached radical Islam gained new contacts and sources of financing when the mujahideen started fighting the Soviets in the Afghan war and when Saudi groups began what became a global crusade. [more]