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The Uzbeks in ISIS, similarly, have fought with other Russian- or Turkic-speakers.It is likely that around 80 percent of the approximately 3,000 Central Asians in Syria are in the KTJ, IBB or other al-Qaeda-aligned groups.In this sense, the IMU’s demise could ironically have a troubling effect from the government’s perspective.Nonetheless, serious concerns remain about terrorism in Uzbekistan.ISIS could raise the IMU’s profile and, like it did to other Provinces, provide the organization with needed funding.
The IBB’s claims of attacks in northern Afghanistan in early 2016 also suggest that the IBB has the capability to return to Afghanistan and could, like the IMU in the late 1990s, obtain a haven provided by the Taliban, with whom the IBB and KTJ remain aligned.
While some of the first Central Asian militant recruits in Syria claimed to be from the IMU, by 2014 new Uzbek-led militant groups had emerged, such as Katibat Tawhid wal Jihod (KTJ) and Imam Buhari Brigade (IBB).
Both of them carried out attacks in Syria with the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra, and pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda and the Taliban. The Uzbeks in KTJ and IBB frequently also fought with the Uighur-led Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP), which migrated from its original bases in Afghanistan to Syria, as well as Chechen and other militant groups in al-Qaeda’s coalition.
The IBB, KTJ and other Uzbek militants in Syria continue to attract followers, gain battlefield experience and make international connections.
Moreover, the Russian airstrikes, which have taken a toll on the IBB and KTJ, have increased their desire for revenge against Russia and has by association refocused their interest to the Russian-speaking Central Asian states.