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Uzbek units linked to deadly crackdown got U.S. training - IHT, France

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  • Zafar Khan
    Uzbek units linked to deadly crackdown got U.S. training By C.J. Chivers and Thom Shanker The New York Times MONDAY, JUNE 20, 2005
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 21, 2005
      Uzbek units linked to deadly crackdown got U.S.
      training

      By C.J. Chivers and Thom Shanker The New York Times
      MONDAY, JUNE 20, 2005

      http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/06/19/news/uzbek.php

      MOSCOW Uzbek law enforcement and security ministries
      implicated by witnesses in a deadly crackdown in the
      city of Andijon last month have for years received
      training and equipment from counterterrorism programs
      run by the United States, according to American
      officials and congressional records.

      The security aid, provided by several U.S. agencies,
      has been intended, in part, to improve the
      capabilities of soldiers and law enforcement officers
      in the Uzbek intelligence service, military and the
      Ministry of Internal Affairs - Uzbekistan's national
      law enforcement service. In addition to equipment aid,
      hundreds of special forces soldiers and security
      officers, many of whom fight terrorism, have received
      training.

      Witnesses and American officials say that the Uzbek
      Army, law enforcement and intelligence service were
      all present at the crackdown. Among them was a special
      Internal Affairs counterterrorism unit known as Bars,
      which has two or three members who were trained in a
      course, sponsored by the U.S. State Department, for
      crisis-response commanders in Louisiana in 2004,
      according to the State Department.

      It is not clear whether these specific officers were
      present in Andijon, although their unit was. Several
      U.S. officials said they had no evidence that any of
      the hundreds of individual troops or security officers
      with American training participated in the violence.
      At the same time, however, they said they were not
      certain that no American-trained personnel were
      present.

      The uncertainty, officials said, is one reason an
      independent investigation of the violence is
      necessary.

      "Until Uzbek authorities allow an independent and
      credible investigation to occur, we cannot know who
      was responsible or was involved," said Tom Casey, a
      State Department spokesman.

      Hundreds of civilians were killed when Uzbek forces
      fired into dense crowds on May 13, according to
      survivors and human rights organizations. The
      crackdown, which the Uzbek government has described as
      a counterterrorism operation, crushed an
      anti-government rally that was prompted by an armed
      uprising and a prison break. The Uzbek government has
      said that 173 people were killed.

      The participation of ministries that have received
      American aid underscores the implicit U.S. gamble in
      security engagement with a repressive state.

      The United States has worked closely with Uzbekistan,
      a corrupt and autocratic state with a chilling human
      rights record, in the fight against international
      terrorism. It has also tried to professionalize the
      Uzbek military, improve its border security and help
      secure materials that could be used in nuclear,
      chemical or biological weapons - areas of engagement
      that American officials say are of clear interest to
      the United States.

      But such policies can backfire, improving the martial
      abilities of units that could commit crimes against
      Uzbek citizens, and associating the United States with
      repression in the eyes of Uzbek people and the Islamic
      world. Uzbekistan is an overwhelmingly Muslim country
      with severe restrictions on freedoms of worship and
      expression.

      Survivors, diplomats and American officials have said
      in interviews that the ministry, run by Colonel
      General Zakirdzhon Almatov, provided principal units
      involved in the crackdown.

      Almatov was present in Andijon on May 13, and he
      negotiated by telephone with Abdulzhon Parpiev, a
      leader of the uprising, according to a survivor who
      witnessed the conversations and a senior diplomat in
      Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan.

      The diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity
      because of his posting in the repressive state, said
      Almatov and President Islam Karimov coordinated the
      actions of Uzbek forces that day.

      Among forces under Almatov's command were two special
      counterterrorism units, Bars and Skorpion, according
      to survivors, a relative of a Bars members, a Bars
      driver and several Uzbeks familiar with the crackdown,
      all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity out of
      fear for their safety. American military officials say
      they have information that those units were present.

      Bars, which survivors said was particularly active, is
      thought to have at least 300 members. It had
      previously worked in the Fergana Valley, a region
      raided in the past by guerrillas from the Islamic
      Movement of Uzbekistan, a group with links to Al
      Qaeda.

      Much about the crackdown remains unknown. The list of
      units present and names of their commanders have not
      been made public. Nor has the nature of orders and
      roles of specific units in the worst hours of violence
      and roundups.



      C.J. Chivers reported from Moscow and Kyrgyzstan and
      Thom Shanker from Washington. Additional reporting was
      contributed by Ethan Wilensky-Lanford in Kyrgyzstan
      and Tashkent, and Alain Delaqueriere in New York.
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      More on Central Asia at:
      http://www.islamawareness.net/CentralAsia/




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