Contagious Jihad: Turmoil in Central Asia

This book focuses on the impact of the Afghanistan-Pakistan conflict and recent large-scale military operations against Taliban militants and international jihadis on the neighboring independent Central Asian states. The study will provide policymakers with comprehensive historical background, analyses, and policy options for developing regional security strategies that closely engage countries of Central Asia in resolving the Afghanistan-Pakistan issue.

Afghanistan’s protracted conflict has long attracted militants from all over the world eager to fight a “holy war” against the “unbelievers”. During the Soviet-Afghan war they were known as mujahedeen. Since the launch of the US-led Operation Enduring Freedom and ouster of the Taliban from Afghanistan, these militants have become to be known as jihadis.

The jihadi movement is a combination of various militant groups that came to existence with the Western, Saudi, and Pakistani support during the Afghan resistance to the Soviet occupation in the 1980s. Driven by diverse and, at times, conflicting motives, these major powers bolstered the radical Islamist groups involved in the bloody proxy war in Afghanistan, which marked the final phase of the Cold War. With the collapse of the USSR, the United States lost all interest in Afghanistan, but jihadism left behind in Afghanistan lived on and thrived. In late 2001, following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the United States waged a war against the world jihadis based in Afghanistan, declaring them terrorists and putting pressure on Islamabad to capture these militants and destroy their operational bases.

Contagious Jihad June 2012 (pdf)

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