Suicide bombers strike U.S., Israeli embassies in Uzbekistan (July 30, 2004)

If you think you are experiencing a bit of deja vu from yesterday’s post, no you are not imagining things. Read on.

TASHKENT, UZBEKISTAN — When we think about terrorism and where it transpires I would imagine that most of us would go to the same four or five places. We would probably start with Afghanistan as it seems – not just seems but really is – a country where terrorism happens a lot.

We would then throw in Iraq and Syria. Some would include Somalia and Nigeria, both African nations with huge terrorism problems. After that it would most likely depend. After that short list it is far from obvious which country should be seen as getting the short end of the terrorism stick.

So, what about Uzbekistan?

I’d bet dollars to donuts that most people have never heard of Uzbekistan and could not find it on a map. The -stan ending may lead some to speculate it is somewhere in Asia and that would be correct.

THERE it is!

Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan is a Central Asian republic which once formed part of the USSR until that social experiment failed in the early 1990s. Like its immediate neighbours (other ‘stans’ such as Kazkakhstan, Kyrgystan and Turkmenistan) Uzbeks speak a Turkic tongue.

So if you had not heard of Uzbekistan you most probably would not have associated it with terrorism. And yet that is exactly what happened on this day in 2004.

On July 30 of that year three suicide bombers struck both the US and Israeli embassies in the Uzbek capital, Tashkent. While no diplomats were killed or injured, two guards at the Israeli legation were killed and seven wounded at the Uzbek prosecutor’s office: two were wounded at the US Embassy.

It happened at 4:45 p.m. while I was doing my business. The explosion was so strong that one could see a flame. But I didn’t manage to get through to the place where it happened.

The terrorist group Islamic Jihad Group (IJG) claimed the attacks and vowed to conduct more: the US State Department listed the group as a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist” less than a year later. The IJG is believed to have ties to Al Qaeda.

That is two attacks 14 years apart in two Central Asian republics. I promise you that tomorrow’s featured incident will not involve a third!

Phil Gurski

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