The Exaggerated Threat of Islamist Militancy in Central Asia

A man prays inside the Minor Mosque in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, March 21, 2019 (Photo by Valeriy Melnikov for Sputnik via AP Images).
A man prays inside the Minor Mosque in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, March 21, 2019 (Photo by Valeriy Melnikov for Sputnik via AP Images).

Last November, a gunfight at a security checkpoint along Tajikistan’s border with Uzbekistan left 15 masked assailants and five Tajik security forces dead—at least according to the government’s official account. The Tajik authorities immediately blamed the Islamic State for the attack, which it said originated from Afghanistan. Some journalists with longtime experience in the region remained cautious and skeptical. But other outlets and news agencies with far bigger readerships uncritically relayed the government’s narrative, while adding wildly exaggerated estimates of the number of Central Asians fighting with the Islamic State in Afghanistan. Only later, after the international media had turned […]

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