Intéressant, mais toujours le même problème : il nous faudrait admettre que cette forme très spécifique d’islamisme radical naîtrait spontanément de la pauvreté, des discriminations et de la répression.
Or, voici ce que Labévière écrivait déjà en octobre 1999 (il y a quinze ans !), dans son prologue pour l’édition américaine de « Dollars for Terror » :
Parallel to the astonishing ideological convergence between the Parisian ex-Leftists and certain former CIA analysts, there is a perceptible propagation of Sunni Islamism (in varying degrees) from Chechnya to Chinese Xinjiang, and it affects all the Muslim republics of the former Soviet Union. With the active support of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and￼other oil monarchies and with the benevolence of the American services engaged in these areas, we can expect a “Talebanization” of Central Asia, particularly in Chechnya.
Following a series of terrorist attacks in Moscow during the autumn of 1999, the Russian army launched a series of operations in Chechnya and Dagestan. This new war in Chechnya came on the heels of a series of grave events ascribable to the Sunni Muslims, whose networks are still expanding from the Caspian Sea to the gates of China. Aslan Maskhadov, the Chechen president, had sought to unify his country via Islam; in the end, threatened by militants who want to establish an Islamic State in Chechnya similar to that of the Taleban in Afghanistan.
After the withdrawal of the Russian troops in 1996, incidents between Islamists and the police force escalated dramatically. An emir of Arab origin, who wanted to found an Islamic State covering the whole of the Caucasus, raised an army of 2000 men. On July 15, 1998, conflicts between 1000 Islamic combatants and the security forces killed more than 50 people in the town of Gudermes, 23 miles east of Grozny. Shortly after these clashes, Chechen President Maskhadov called on the population and the local religious authority to resist the “Wahhabis and those who are behind these misled insurrectionaries.” He affirmed his intention to excise from Chechnya “those who are trying to impose a foreign ideology on the population.” On July 31, 1998 he barely escaped an assassination attempt attributed to Islamic activists.
On December 12, 1998, the Chechen authorities announced the arrest of Arbi Baraev, a Wahhabi militant. He had proclaimed a “Jihad against the enemies of the true religion,” and was implicated in the murder of the four Western engineers (three British and one New Zealander) whose severed heads were found on December 10, 1998. He also admitted participating in the kidnapping and the detention of Frenchman Vincent Cochetel, a delegate from the U.N.’s High Commission of Refugees. Cochetel disappeared in Ossetia; he was released on December 10, 1998, after 317 days in captivity. The Islamists, in addition, acknowledged kidnapping the Chechen Attorney General Mansour Takirov, on December 11, 1998. And on March 21, 1999, the Chechen President escaped a second bombing, right in the center of Grozny.
While Aslan Maskhadov proclaims his determination to eradicate Wahhabi Islamism in his country, he is opposed by several members of his government who protect the religious activists. Thus Movadi Uklugov, a member of the Chechen government, wants to establish diplomatic relation with the Taleban of Afghanistan. The Chechen Vice President Vakha Arsanov called for reprisals against the United States after the August 20, 1998 bombing of Sudan and Afghanistan. One year later, Chechnya was cut in two by the Russian forces; 170,000 women and children headed for exile in Ingushetia, another Islamic sanctuary. The pressure of refugees fleeing the war in Ossetia is growing and the entire area is slipping into a civil war mode, like Afghan — just what Maskhadov wanted to avoid. But “Talebanization” is gaining ground in Dagestan, Tatarstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and the fringes of China as well.
In May 1997, in Dagestan, Wahhabi militants wielding automatic weapons clashed with representatives of local Sufi brotherhoods. Two people were killed, three others wounded and eighteen Wahhabis were taken hostage by the Sufis. On December 21, 1997, three units of former volunteers from the Afghan resistance attacked a Russian military base in Dagestan. These combatants, coming from Chechnya, Dagestan, Ingushetia, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, assassinated several dozen Russian soldiers and officers, and then set fire to some three hundred vehicles. Before retiring to Chechnya, these Islamists handed out leaflets proclaiming, among other things, that new military training camps would be opened in Chechnya to prepare additional combatants “who will teach the impious Russians a lesson.”
In August 1998, the Wahhabi communities of three Dagestani villages proclaimed “independent Islamic republics,” recognized Sharia as the only law valid in the state, and sought to leave the Russian Federation to join Chechnya. Lastly, August 21, 1998, the mufti of Dagestan, Saïd Mohammad Abubakarov (who had urged the authorities to react firmly against Wahhabi terrorism) and his brother were killed when his residence was bombed. The chaos caused by this attack led the country to the brink of civil war.
In Tatarstan, the authorities see the development of a radical Islamist movement as a serious threat to the country’s stability, since the appearance of “religious political organizations” endangers the coexistence of the Russian and Tatar populations. In March 1999, Mintimer Chaîmiev — President of Tatarstan — denounced “the action of emissaries from Islamic countries who recruit young people in Russia, and give them military training abroad, leading to terrorist actions.” During 1999, several Pakistani, Afghan and Saudi “missionaries” were￼expelled from the country for proselytism intended to unleash a “holy war.”
The Ferghana Valley in Uzbekistan has long been the site of an Islamist education and agitation center with close ties to Pakistan and the Saudi Wahhabi organizations. In 1992, after an uprising in Namangan, the biggest town in the Ferghana Valley, President Islam Karimov (the former head of the Uzbek Communist Party) ordered a series of arrests against the Islamist agitators while seeking to promote an official form of Islam through the International Center of Islamic Research financed by the State. In December 1997, several police officers were assassinated by Wahhabi activists. On February 16, 1998, the Uzbek Minister for Foreign Affairs blamed the Islamist organizations in Pakistan and accused them of training the terrorists who conducted these assassinations. According to his information services, more than 500 Uzbeks, Kirghiz and Tajiks were trained in Pakistan and in Afghanistan before returning to their home lands in order to propagate a holy war against the “impious authorities.”
Between July 1998 and January 1999, a hundred Wahhabi Islamists were tried and sentenced to three to twenty years in prison. On February 16, 1999, six explosions ripped through Tashkent, the Uzbek capital, killing 15 and wounding some 150. The first three charges exploded near the government headquarters; three others hit a school, a retail store and the airport. Shortly after this lethal night, the Uzbek authorities denounced acts “financed by organizations based abroad” and reiterated their intention to fight Wahhabi extremism. On March 18, 1999, some thirty Wahhabi militants (suspected of involvement in the February 16 attacks) were arrested in Kazakhstan. According to Interfax, the Russian press agency, they were holding airplane tickets for the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, Chechnya and Azerbaidjan.
In Kyrgyzstan, in February 1998, the Muslim religious authorities launched a vast information campaign to counter Saudi proselytism and the propagation of Wahhabi ideology. On May 12, the Kyrgyzstan security forces arrested four foreigners, members of a very active clandestine Wahhabi organization. This group was training recruits from Kyrgyzstan in military boot camps linked to Afghanistan and Pakistan. The police also seized Afghan and Pakistani passports, a large sum in U.S. dollars, video cassettes summoning viewers to a “holy war,” and other propaganda documents. The authorities announced a series of measures against those who were using religious instruction “to destabilize the country.” In May 1998, the Kyrgyz authorities, who had already arrested and extradited eight Uzbek activists in 1997, signed two agreements on anti-terrorist cooperation with Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
China has not been spared. Xinjiang (southern China), has a population that is 55% Uighur (a turkophone Sunni ethnic group); it has been confronted with Islamist violence since the beginning of the 1990’s. Created in 1955, Xinjiang (which means “new territory”) is one of the five autonomous areas of China and is the largest administrative unit of the country. The area is highly strategic at the geopolitical level — Chinese nuclear tests and rocket launches take place on the Lop Nor test grounds — as well as from an economic standpoint, since it abounds in natural wealth (oil, gas, uranium, gold, etc.). Against this backdrop, attacks have proliferated by independence-seeking cliques, all preaching “Holy War.”
Some are acting in the name of Turkish identity, while others are fighting in the name of Allah (especially in the southern part of the region). As in the rest of Central Asia, in Xinjiang we are witnessing the rising influence of Wahhabi groups and the increasing proselytism of preachers from Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Traditionally allied with popular China, Pakistan is nevertheless trying to extend its influence to this part of China, using the Islamists as it did in Afghanistan. For this reason Beijing closed the road from Karakorum, connecting Xinjiang to Pakistan, between 1992 and 1995. Since 1996, the frequency of the incidents has skyrocketed. In February 1997, riots exploded in Yining (a town of 300,000 inhabitants located to the west of Urumqi, near the Kazakh border). This violence caused ten deaths, according to Chinese authorities, and the Uighurs have counted more than a hundred victims.
Every week in 1998 saw a bombing or an attack with automatic weapons. The region’s hotels, airports and railway stations are in a constant state of alert. In April, Chinese authorities in the vicinity of Yining seized 700 cases of ammunition from Kazakhstan. In September, the Secretary of the Xinjiang Communist Party declared that “19 training camps, in which specialists returning from Afghanistan educate young recruits in the techniques of terrorism, with the assistance of the Taleban,” were neutralized. In January 1999, 29 activists implicated in the February 1997 riots were arrested. On February 12, violent clashes between the police and groups of Uighur militants wounded several dozen people in Urumqi. Two hundred people were arrested. In early March, 10,000 additional soldiers arrived at Yining to beef up security, while in Beijing, the Uighur Islamist organizations took credit for several bomb attacks.
Ce qui me laisse penser que là, comme dans d’autres situations (notamment la Syrie), on s’abstrait volontairement (et avec une fausse-naïveté épatante) des aspects géopolitiques et de l’histoire des deux dernières décennies. (Parce qu’on ne sait toujours pas à quel moment on devrait admettre que les Occidentaux et leurs relais Séoudiens et Pakistanais auraient définitivement renoncé à jouer la carte jihadiste dans le monde… après 2001, après l’Irak, après la Libye, après la Syrie, après Charlie Hebdo ?).