Author Topic: International Terrorist Reveals All  (Read 52 times)

Kal EL

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International Terrorist Reveals All
« on: December 02, 2005, 11:28:07 AM »
International Terrorist Reveals All
Created: 01.12.2005 15:40 MSK (GMT +3), Updated: 15:44 MSK

Bakhtiyar Akhmedkhanov

The Moscow News


A Tashkent city court delivered a guilty verdict against members of the Akromiylar movement who took part in the Andizhan events (May, 12-13, 2005). The authorities allege that militants from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) were also involved. Shukhrat Masirokhunov, 34, a former chief of the IMU counterintelligence service who was extradited from Pakistan several months ago, is now awaiting trial in Tashkent. He faces 20 years in prison.

It is widely believed that people join the militants out of despair. Do you come from a poor family?

Well, my father was a CPSU regional committee functionary in the city of Andizhan. I never walked to or from school but went in a car. When I finished Grade 10, my father gave me a Model 6 Zhiguli sedan. I have a degree in history from the local university.

I worked at the Russian Communist Youth League (Komsomol) regional committee and then at the regional administration. I engaged in privatization programs and controlled an investment fund. Operations with securities brought as much money in a single day as an ordinary person might not even earn in 10 years.

So how did a Komsomol activist end up in the IMU?

Very easy. An ideological vacuum [that came with the breakup of the Soviet Union] was soon filled. First, they talked at the highest possible level about the need to restore Islamic values and then Muslims were made into enemies. I probably had more money than was good for me — drinking, playing around with girls, you know, leading an unhealthy lifestyle. Then I got sick: a stomach ulcer. One day a friend advised me to live like a good Muslim — stop drinking, start praying. I joined a Koran study group. We met and talked. Someone said there was a madrasa in Chechnya that was open to all those willing to join. I went there in 1998.
There was a training center called Kavkaz (Caucasus), near the village of Avtury, and I was accepted. At first, we studied religion and then took a course of combat training. There were about 50 Uzbeks there. The teachers were Arabs who spoke fluent Russian. It was there that I met Khattab. He was a real soldier and a cheerful guy who liked a good joke. Basayev was just a politician, but a very smart one. After a year of studies, I decided to leave: the local climate was humid and I caught pneumonia. Before leaving, I received instructions to send money to Chechnya to support the Uzbek jamaat. It was also planned to abduct a number of children from rich families in Tashkent, mainly Jewish. They were to be held in Kazakhstan, while ransom would be paid to people based in Chechnya. But after a series of bomb attacks in Tashkent in the winter of 1999, I had to run away. The abductions were carried out by the brothers Yuldashev and Murad Kaziev: We had trained in Chechnya together.

Eventually, I and several other men got to Afghanistan — via Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and Iran, to the Char Asyab camp near Jalalabad.

Did you take part in the Andizhan events?

No, it was probably the work of the Islamic Jihad of Uzbekistan: they pulled out of the IMU. They are even more radical and intransigent. They are mostly young men.

But are events of this type not coordinated, for example, by al-Qaeda?

Al-Qaeda translates as “foundation,” “base”. So we also began with a base, but now everyone is on his own. Information and instructions are issued via the Internet. There was an al-Qaeda camp adjacent to ours in Chechnya, but the two kept entirely separate from each other. We had mainly Uzbeks, Tajiks, and Kyrgyz, while they had Arabs and Europeans, but some recruits occasionally moved from one camp to the other. There was no rigid structure.

For example, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq. He is portrayed as a bin Laden representative, but this is not so; he is on his own. We got in touch with him not very long ago, offering to help, but he refused. I met with Zarqawi two years ago. He did not stand out in any special way. At that time, I was higher within our hierarchy.

Are you acquainted with bin Laden?

Would not say acquainted, but I have met him on several occasions. He addressed us in Afghanistan in 2000. He said that he was pleased to see representatives from 56 countries there and that we should unite. Some people proposed a series of attacks in a number of countries, for example, blow up a dam near Tashkent or explode a “dirty bomb”. But he said that “we will have time to do that yet.” He asked whether there were any physicists among us.

There was also talk to the effect that the raw materials for a “dirty bomb” had been bought in Russia and Ukraine, specifically from a scrap-yard for decommissioned nuclear submarines.

Are you saying that al-Qaeda has a “dirty bomb”?

Yes, I think it does. At least Takhir (Takhir Yuldashev, the leader of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan who is now in Pakistan or Afghanistan. — Editor.) told me that bomb material had been acquired from Dr. Abdul Kadyr Khan in Pakistan, who, as is known, met with bin Laden in Kandahar. I also know that the Americans found two nuclear research laboratories in Kandahar, but for some reason the fact was suppressed.

In 2000, I took a 20-day training course in making chemical agents and explosives. A poison can be made literally from any material — cigarettes, honey, and even bread. We worked at a special laboratory near Jalalabad. Our instructor was Abu Habbob Misriy, a former chemistry teacher from Egypt. There were about 200 men taking that course, including 14 or 15 from the North Caucasus who returned to Russia a year later.

There was a similar laboratory in the Pankisi Gorge in Georgia, where chemical agents were synthesized by a hired scientist, apparently a Russian. That laboratory was then supposed to be moved from Georgia to Pakistan. There were plans to start using bacteriological and chemical weapons. The first targets for attack were to be in Italy and Moscow — why, I do not know.

Who funds all these camps?

I do not know about all of them, but we received money and weapons from the Taliban. There were no limitations: we got as much as we asked for. For their part, their funds purportedly came from donations, but there was too much money to have come from donations. Generally, money was not a problem. I spent seven years in Afghanistan and I regularly sent money home — often quite large amounts, up to $10,000. To do that, I had to travel to Iran since Western Union did not operate in Afghanistan. I often went there on business trips. We had no problem crossing the border: A vehicle from the other side would come and take us there.

What were your duties in Afghanistan?

I was to expose enemy agents, test and run background checks on our people, and recruit our own agents. The last task was by far the easiest. If a police officer gets $150 to $200 a month, hates his boss and distrusts his state, it is very easy to buy him.

Each new arrival was placed under a one-month quarantine. He was tested and studied very closely. For example, at lunch somebody knocks his plate out of his hands. How will a person behave in this situation? Or he is given psychotropic drugs before going to bed, and we listen to everything he says in his sleep.

Did you expose many enemy agents?

Yes, we did. Once we even caught a Federal Security Service agent. He was called Khashim, from the city of Naberezhnye Chelny. He confessed everything. I even spoke with his mother on the telephone from Afghanistan and tried to get in touch with his FSB minder but unfortunately did not get through. I turned him over to the Taliban. Subsequently, he ended up with the Americans who took him to Guantanamo.

The enemy agents that we caught were, as a general rule, used to disseminate false or misleading information. We did not kill them but used them for our own interests.

Do intelligence and security services from other countries also help you?

Do you know how special operations against militants are conducted in Pakistan? They will pin us down in some place and the situation seems to be hopeless, but then the Pakistani soldiers show us an escape route.

If Pakistan goes to war with us, the country will explode because the people sympathize with us. So they pretend to be helping the United States, while in fact they are helping us.

Where is bin Laden? In Pakistan. They cannot catch him? That’s because they do not really want to catch him.

But you were detained in Pakistan, right?

Yes, in Peshawar. I was certain that the Pakistanis would let me go. They promised not to extradite me to Uzbekistan. When I was in a local jail, U.S. intelligence officers talked to me on several occasions. I was blindfolded and taken somewhere. I did not see their faces, but they spoke Farsi with me.

Did they interrogate you?

No, they tried to recruit me. I was offered cooperation. I was to take part in some operations in the Caucasus, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan and in return for that they promised to get me into Europe or some Arab country. They also said that it was senseless to fight against the Americans in Afghanistan and that our common enemy was the Karimov regime: it had to be brought down for democracy to be established there.

I refused since I thought that the Pakistanis would release me. I also thought that Takhir would bail me out. It turned out that he had ditched me.

Have there been other contacts between the Americans and your men?

They tried to get in touch with Takhir Yuldashev. They met last winter in Kabul. In addition to Takhir, there was also Mawlawi Sayyed (the leader of the Islamic Movement of Afghanistan. — Ed.), as well as other field commanders. They promised to help us.

The Americans are also playing a double game: They are fighting us but also trying to set us against others.

What is happening in Afghanistan? Who is in control?

The Americans control Kabul (but only in the daytime) and several bases, but they are afraid to stick their noses out of them. As a matter of fact, it is not a case of them looking for us but us searching them out. We will mine an area around their base and then fire a missile and wait. First, helicopters arrive and then people — Afghans: they are always sent in first; they are paid $100 to do that. The Afghans are followed by Americans aboard Hummer vehicles, and we blow them up.

Or do you know how they run that weapons buy-back program? An old Afghan man will bring an old Soviet-era assault rifle and they will pay him $300 in compensation. Then he will go and buy a brand new rifle for just $100. Weapons are easily available. In Tajikistan, it is your Russian servicemen who sell them.

The Americans will pull out of Afghanistan: there is no way they can hold on there. And they will also have to leave Iraq.

What is the IMU like today?

An Islamic movement, party or organization — whichever you like best. Except that it is not IMU but IMT — the Islamic Movement of Turkestan. This is what it is called now because it is comprised of representatives of all Central Asian republics plus Uyghurs.

Once our organization had a dozen members, but now there are hundreds of members and thousands of supporters in various republics. The movement is led by Takhir Yuldashev, but he is not a real leader. He is, rather, a politician inclined to compromise. The late Namangani was an entirely different matter: People were ready to follow him to the end.

Where are the militant training camps based?

Where they have always been based — in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Those that I know of are located on the border between these two countries — in the Khanta Thal gorge and near the village of Wana. Each has about 100 men — from Central Asia and Russia, and there are also Arabs. There are camps in Tajikistan and there are plans to set them up in Kyrgyzstan.

But surely this is impossible without high-level support?

It is there all right. In Kyrgyzstan, we are supported by a local drug baron, Erkinbayev, as well as a member of parliament. I do not know his name, but he went to Iran to meet with Makhmud Rustamov, who was in charge of external relations. They discussed Kyrgyz POWs who we had taken during the Batken events.

One route from Afghanistan to Uzbekistan lies through Tajikistan and then on to Kyrgyzstan. Our men were carried there in vehicles from the Tajik Emergency Situations Ministry. This ministry helped many of our men to get jobs and housing. For example, Rasul Okhunov, a member of our movement, worked for the ministry.

Incidentally, U.S. instructors — specialists in explosive demolition and commando operations — trained government servicemen at the Ministry’s bases in Kairakkum, Taboshar and Shurabe.

Have you been subjected to “enhanced interrogation techniques” in Uzbekistan?

There was no need. We are all professionals. I know that today there is no problem getting any information from a person so I cooperated voluntarily.

Where is your family now?

My mother and brother are in jail here in Uzbekistan. My wife and children are in Pakistan. I hope that they will be taken care of.