Financing the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan
Group financing profile
Uzbekistan is seeking to work with the Afghan Taliban to take down a common enemy – the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU). The IMU was formed in 1998 and a year later, orchestrated an infamous series of attacks in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent in an attempt to assassinate the president.1 After the group pledged allegiance to ISIS in 2015, the Taliban also deemed the IMU to be an adversary. While IMU operations have dwindled significantly in recent years, their connection to ISIL-KP might bring them back onto the attack radar.
Despite a much lower profile in recent years, the remains IMU active and is likely based in Northern Afghanistan. The group has previously established bases in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Pakistan, and Kyrgyzstan. Upon receiving permission from the Taliban, the IMU established their main base in Afghanistan around 2010. However, once the IMU pledged allegiance to ISIS in 2015, the Taliban launched a major military campaign that killed several important IMU figures. Prior Afghan government and Taliban action against the group in all jurisdictions, including within Afghanistan, has forced the IMU to relocate its main operating base several times. While the organization is active, it is not nearly as strong as it was in the early 2000s due to the deaths of key leadership figures and ensuing organizational disarray. Splinter groups, such as the Islamic Jihad Union, have now attempted to spread into Central Asia.
In the early days of the IMU, organizations such as the Taliban, Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency,2 and various Islamic Political Parties in Pakistan provided significant resources to support the formation of group. In the 1990’s, Osama bin Laden provided substantial financial support, weapons, and training to help the IMU take off.3